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F&SF, February 1991

For the past six or seven months, we’ve been doing a #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) feature on the F&SF Twitter account and Facebook page. For the new year, we thought it might be good to add them here where they can be easily found under the “F&SF History” tag.

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Fantasy & Science Fiction, Feb 1991, cover by Steve Vance#‎TBT‬ to the February 1991 F&SF. Steve Vance’s cover illustrates Paul Di Filippo’s alternate history story “Mairzy Doats.”

The issue leads with “Ma Qui” by Alan Brennert, a ghost story about imperialism and the Vietnam War. It won the Nebula Award the same year that Brennert won an Emmy Award for his work as a producer and writer on L.A. Law. Brennert was runner-up for the 1975 Campbell Award. He probably isn’t a household name in science fiction but his work is well known. He was a writer, story editor, and producer on genre tv shows like Wonder Woman, Buck Rogers in the 21st Century, The New Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Stargate Atlantis, and Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as other shows like L.A. Law. He also wrote comics for DC and Marvel, including Detective Comics #500, which introduced Barbara Kean Gordon, now featured in tv’s Gotham. These days he writes best-selling historical novels, returning to the kinds of research and themes of racial discrimination found in “Ma Qui.”

The cover story, “Mairzy Doats” by Paul Di Filippo, is a nostalgic and funny alternate history featuring a plausibly elected President Robert Heinlein. This story was recently reprinted in Di Filippo’s collection of alternate history stories, Lost Pages.

The rest of the stories in the issue show the usual range of subgenres that you expect in any copy of F&SF. “The Breaking-Up Yard” by John Griesemer is a historical fantasy about a shipwreck in the arctic in the 1830s. Peg Kerr’s “Athena Keramitis” is a near-future medical sf story. “Micro Macho” by Thomas A. Easton skewers big game hunting. “Reaper” by James Alan Gardner is a grim reaper story variation. “The Beastbreaker” by Ray Aldridge is an exoplanet adventure in his Dilvermoon series.

The issue closes with “Raccoon Music” by Sheri S. Tepper, one of her Crazy Carol Magnuson stories, in which a woman celebrates her fiftieth birthday by driving her junker car across Colorado, where it breaks down in the middle of nowhere and an adventure ensues.

Algis Budrys’s book column is devoted entirely to Kathe Koja, and Orson Scott Card’s Books to Look For focuses on non-fiction. Isaac Asimov’s science column starts with his lunch with Gorbachev, an example of the importance for scientists to talk to non-scientists. He ends the anecdote with an observation about why writes his science column for F&SF

It seems to me extremely important that scientists should spend an adequate portion of their time speaking to non-scientists, trying to get across to the wider public what science means, what scientists have done and are doing, and, just as important, perhaps gathering what the wider public thinks of science and what its hopes and fears of science and technology might be.
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It is because of this belief of mine that I have spent so large a portion of my life writing and speaking about science and technology to the general public. And it is the essay series in this magazine, which has been continuing now, without a break, for a third of a century, that I consider my most important contribution in this direction.

…before turning to a more practical discussion of the history and science of the electronic production of images.

This issue, which came out 25 years ago this month, is one of the last five edited by Ed Ferman before he passed the reins to Kristine Kathryn Rusch

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