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Editor’s Note for September-October 2018

Welcome to issue #739 of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, a prime number for another prime set of offerings. Our September/October 2018 volume celebrates the magazine’s 69th anniversary with eleven new stories and a poem, plus all our regular columns and features.

Most of our electronic and paper subscribers have already received their issues, but if you’re looking for a copy you can find us in most Barnes & Noble stores, as well as many local independent booksellers. You can also order a single copy from our website or buy an electronic edition from Amazon, AmazonUK, and — now, available worldwide and in every electronic format — through Weightless Books.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, September/October 2018, cover by Michael GarlandThis month’s cover illustrates “Powerless” by Harry Turtledove. The artwork is by the award-winning artist Michael Garland.


“While life, in its essence, moves toward plurality, diversity, independent self-constitution, and self organization, in short, toward the fulfillment of its own freedom, the post-totalitarian system demands conformity, uniformity, and discipline.”
– Vaclav Havel, “The Power of the Powerless”

It’s been more than a decade since Harry Turtledove appeared in our pages, and we’re glad to welcome him back with “Powerless,” a novelet inspired by Vaclav Havel’s famous essay dissecting “government by bureaucracy” and its tools of oppression. This alternate history may be set in Red Southern California instead of Cold War Eastern Europe, but that’s only because, as you’ll see, totalitarian systems can arise anywhere, at anytime… and so can resistance.


Our fantasy this month includes “Shooting Iron,” by Cassandra Khaw and Jonathan Howard, a story that takes everything you think you know about Western tropes and turns them on their heads. We fell in love the gunslinger Jenny Lim, and we think you will too. Yukimi Ogawa returns to our pages with “Taste of Opal,” an adventure story unlike any other we’ve read recently. We also thought it was a great example of the kishōtenketsu plot structure that has been reaching new audiences in recent years. Geoff Ryman brings us “Blessed,” a contemporary fantasy that takes place in Abeokuta, Nigeria, where the Aké Literary Festivals, named for the birthplace of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, are held. And Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, a Tiptree Award Honorable Mention and Nebula Award finalist, makes her F&SF debut with “The Men Who Come From Flowers,” a story that might disturb you but one that will definitely make you think.

This month’s selection of science fiction spans the spectrum of the genre. Regular F&SF contributor Brian Trent takes us to the near future and introduces us to “The Memorybox Vultures,” a twisty thriller that asks who owns our social media identities and what happens to them after we die. Jeremiah Tolbert makes his F&SF debut with “We Mete Justice With Beak and Talon,” another near future story where AI-equipped eagles hunt illegal drones. In “Suicide Watch,” Susan Emshwiller takes us to a future where companies offer Death Tours to profit from despair. And Sarina Dories returns to our pages with “Impossible Male Pregnancy: Click to Read Full Story,” a humorous tale ripped right from the clickbait headlines. But we also head off to outer space. Brenda Kalt shows us “The Gallian Revolt as Seen from the Sama-Sama Laundrobath” – everything you need to know is right there in the title. And Gregor Hartmann returns to the magazine accompanied by “Emissaries from the Skirts of Heaven,” a life-spanning story that’s part of his on-going series set around the planet Zephyr.

Poet Jeff Crandall also drops by to describe “What Loves You.”


Charles de Lint recommends some Books to Look For by Juliet E. McKenna, Izzy Robertson, Alex Bledsoe, and Melissa F. Olson, and reviews Barry M. Malzberg’s new essay collection and A.D. Jameson’s I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing, about Star Wars and the triumph of Geek Culture. In her Books column, Elizabeth Hand offers indepth reviews of The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley and Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded by Jason Heller. And for our monthly Curiosities column, rediscovering lost writers and books, Mike Ashley visits A Prisoner in Fairyland by Algernon Blackwood, the 1913 novel that introduced the idea of the Starlight Express.

In his latest television column, Tim Pratt reviews the first two seasons of “The Good Place” before Season 3 premieres at the end of September. And in our science column, Jerry Oltion pokes at “The Telltale Vein,” exploring blood tests, how they work, and everything they can reveal. The print version of the magazine also offers up cartoons by Bill Long, Arthur Masear, and Kendra Allenby.


We hope you’ll share your thoughts about the issue with us. We can be found on:


C.C. Finlay, Editor
Fantasy & Science Fiction | @fandsf


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