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A Change at the Magazine

Today’s interview with Richard Bowes marks Stephen Mazur’s last official act as Assistant Editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

After the writers and contributors to the magazine, the editor and publisher tend to get most of the credit for making it happen. But the truth is we couldn’t complete any of our work without the constant effort of a whole team of people.

Stephen Mazur has been a key part of that team since December of 2009, or just over ten and a half years. During his first five years on the job, he was the first line of contact for writers submitting to the magazine. Back in those days — it’s just a decade, but surely it feels much longer — F&SF only accepted paper submissions. Stephen opened the mail and read all those stories, writing thousands of rejection letters and helping to discover some new writers along the way.

When I became editor in 2015 and we switched over to electronic submissions, Stephen’s role gradually changed until he became my second reader, providing thoughtful and detailed notes on anything we were seriously considering for the magazine. If you ever got a rewrite request or a rejection with more detailed comments in it, chances are that Stephen’s hand was in that process somewhere along the way. In that role, he became an even stronger advocate for new writers and specific stories, sometimes arguing with me to give something he loved another look. He often ended up being right and I bought several stories only because of his intervention. He brought a sharp eye for great storytelling to his work, and there are many writers who will never know how much he did for them.

He was also one of the magazine’s main points of contact for the writers we did publish, primarily by conducting our blog interviews with them. Although he was based in F&SF‘s business office on the other side of the country and was responsible for many things in that of the operation, which consumed the majority of his work time by the end, I could not have been as effective in my role as editor without him, especially early on when I was still learning the ropes. He did a lot to help me build up F&SF‘s social media presence, acted as a sounding board for me when I was thinking about upcoming issues, was always eager to generate ideas to promote and develop the magazine, and served as an excellent ambassador for F&SF at conventions and in other venues.

Stephen is moving on to a writing-related job outside of publishing. His new employers will find themselves very lucky to have him. I suspect that he will come to think himself lucky too, as he can go back to reading fiction just for pleasure again. But the magazine, and I, in particular, will miss him. Please join us in wishing him good luck in his future ventures. Thanks, Stephen.

C.C. Finlay, Editor
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Interview: John Possidente on “Red Sword of the Celiac”

John PossidenteTell us a bit about “Red Sword of the Celiac.”

It’s the story of a book reviewer who gets an unattractive assignment that turns out to be not what it seems. Their discovery arc seems to include a slightly cynical but essentially loving whirlwind tour through two decades of overused SF tropes. It might be allegorical. Or symbolism. It might not. Also, there’s a cat.


What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

This one started with the title (which was nice, because coming up with titles can be a real pain). I was chatting in too much detail with someone about the symptoms of their celiac disease–because everything is interesting if you’re a writer, right?–and the phrase popped into my head. “The red sword” sounded like a fantastical euphemism for the gut pain celiac can cause. It also sounded like the title of an old pulp novel. I’d just finished reading Breakfast in the Ruins, a book of essays by Barry Malzberg, and suddenly I had the idea to write a review of that nonexistent pulp novel (which of course was the third in a trilogy). Borges and Lem rolled over in their graves, and here we are.


Was “Red Sword of the Celiac” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

Only in that I had enormous fun looking back on all the stories and novels and films from those times and choosing which tropes to include. Lots of fond memories.


Why do you write?

I want to say, “because it’s fun,” but that seems flippant, because sometimes it’s hard work. Mostly I think it’s that the ideas, the characters, the stories assemble in your head, and you get excited about them; it would feel like a waste and a shame to leave them there, uncommunicated. Showing a story to somebody and seeing that they enjoyed it, that’s a great feeling. The collaboration between the text and the reader–finding out that someone got something else out of it, a meaning entirely different from what you intended–that’s delightful.


What are you working on now?

Too many things. I tend to jump around between projects, depending on which one I’m excited about–which is a terrible, horrible, inefficient way to work and I don’t recommend it to anybody, except that Ray Bradbury said that’s how to do it, to write where your passion is. I guess he did okay, so maybe it will work out for me.


“Red Sword of the Celiac” appears in the March/April 2020 issue of F&SF.

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Editor’s Note for March-April 2020

The March/April issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction will transport you from a hair salon in Lagos to the dusty American southwest, from an alternate past to other planets in the far distant future. Which is why we chose an explorer, beautifully illustrated by Mondolithic Studios, for this month’s cover

If you’re looking for a copy of this issue, you can find F&SF in most Barnes & Noble stores beginning on Tuesday, March 3, as well as at many local independent booksellers. You can also order a single copy of this issue from our website or, if you prefer, buy an electronic copy of the issue, available worldwide and in every electronic format, from Weightless Books.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April, cover by Mondolithic Studios


Some writers defy easy categorization and then some writers defy any, as you’ll find out when you read this month’s featured novella, “Come the Revolution” by Ian Tregillis. Like much of Tregillis’s fiction, this story combines elements of alternate history, hard science, and fantasy adventure with the exploration of difficult ethical questions and an unmistakable voice.

In his Alchemy Wars trilogy (The Mechanical, The Rising, and The Liberation, published by Orbit Books), Tregillis imagined an alternate version of our world where clockwork robots animated by a supernatural geas rebelled against their human masters. “Come the Revolution” takes place before the first book in the series and plants the seed of that rebellion. Readers who loved the series now have the chance to find out more about it, and readers coming to Tregillis’s world for the first time will be happy to know that there are more books to read when they finish this story.


There’s a wide selection of fantasy and dark fantasy in this issue. We start with “Kikelomo Ultrasheen” by Dare Segun Falowo, based in part on his experiences growing up in his mother’s hair salon in Nigeria. Matthew Hughes briefly departs from his ongoing adventures of Baldemar to bring us “The Last Legend,” a story originally written for Gardner Dozois’s The Book of Legends anthology. Amanda Hollander, who made her short fiction debut in our 70th Anniversary issue last year, returns to serve us “A Feast of Butterflies,” a dark fantasy about small communities and the quest for justice. And Elizabeth Bear makes us a gift of “Hacksilver,” an adventure inspired by the Icelandic sagas that we also rescued for you from Dozois’s The Book of Legends.

Our science fiction offerings start on Earth, reach into space, and take place in the far future. We start with “The Million Mile Sniper” by SL Huang, making her first appearance in F&SF, and putting her background in mathematics and firearms to good (fictional) use. We also have a trio of stories by F&SF regulars. Gregor Hartmann portrays a near future space program in “A Solitary Crane Circles Cold Mountain.” William Ledbetter imagines the survivors dealing with an alien invasion in “Hungry is the Earth.” And Brian Trent gives us an Agatha-Christie-in-space type romp of a mystery with “Death on the Nefertem Express.”

There are also some stories that we won’t bother to categorize for you, although they’re clearly speculative. Amman Sabet, who grew up in New York City, where he picked up some bad habits and never learned how to properly apologize, encourages us to “Say You’re Sorry.” We also have two very short pieces. John Possidente reviews a fictional piece of fiction titled “The Red Sword of the Celiac.” And James Patrick Kelly joins us again after too long an absence in these pages to show us “The Man I Love.”

We also have poetry by Lauren McBride and Deborah L. Davitt, columns by Charles de Lint, Elizabeth Hand, David J. Skal, Jerry Oltion, and Graham Andrews, and a bunch of cartoons.


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

Paper subscriptions are available directly from us. And electronic subscriptions are available from Amazon, AmazonUK, and Weightless Books.

71st Year of Publication


“Come the Revolution” – Ian Tregillis


“Kikelomo Ultrasheen” – Dare Segun Falowo
“The Last Legend” – Matthew Hughes
“Hacksilver” – Elizabeth Bear
“Death on the Nefertem Express” – Brian Trent


“The Million-Mile Sniper” – SL Huang
“Red Sword tf the Celiac” – John Possidente
“Say You’re Sorry” – Amman Sabet
“A Solitary Crane Circles Cold Mountain” – Gregor Hartmann
“A Feast of Butterflies” – Amanda Hollander
“Hungry Is the Earth” – William Ledbetter
“The Man I Love” – James Patrick Kelly


“To My Shipmates at Journey’s End” – Lauren McBride
“4 Vesta” – Deborah L. Davitt


Books to Look For by Charles de Lint
Books by Elizabeth Hand
Film: Wet Screams by David J. Skal
Science: Natural Disasters in Utopia by Jerry Oltion
Curiosities: Public Faces by Harold Nicolson (1932) by Graham Andrews

Cartoons by Arthur Masear, Kendra Allenby, Mark Heath, Nick Downes

Cover: By Mondolithic Studios


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

Interview: Elaine Vilar Madruga on “Elsinore Revolution”

Elaine Vilar MadrugaTell us a bit about “Elsinore Revolution.”

It’s not one of my most recent stories. I wrote it almost a decade ago. Back then, I was studying for my bachelor’s degree in theater arts, and Shakespeare’s plays had a direct impact on my whole creative process. I had one of those moments of epiphany that light up a specific creative process, an exercise of forces a writer willfully obeys through the birth of writing. I not only wanted to write about Shakespeare and his work in the science fiction mode, but I also wanted to go deeper, down a dark rabbit hole, in an attempt to find a story that spoke of circularity, eternal recurrence, and an eternal wheel that binds writers—and their characters—to the creative machinery. What moves us when we write? What program ties us and conditions our art? Are we really independent as creative entities? These were the questions that at that time obsessed me. Then, I found a point, a character to circumscribe my story: Ophelia, no longer a victim of her circumstances, nor a deranged maiden, nor a suicide victim with flowers around her neck, but a rebel, a revolutionary body, a virus within the power machinery. And all of a sudden everything was written.


What was the inspiration for this story?

My writing examines the anthropological and philosophical reflection that revolves around art and the process of creating it. It’s almost an obsession. Although this word at times has negative, almost pathological, connotations, obsession is the precise dimension that has always catalyzed my work. The writer always works on the basis of obsessive stimuli, which sometimes serve as nightmares, or at least as recurring methods for the beauty of fear. I wanted to write a story about revolution and rebellion, about how a rebel can be a “virus” in society. Also about how the society, the machinery, usually deals with eliminating an anachronistic, discordant, and dissonant element, which presents a danger to the already established natural rhythm. In addition, there was Shakespeare’s imagery. Also, the human in his stories has always seemed concomitant with the notion of ​​the fantastic—as long as we understand the fantastic not as a supernatural element, but one adjacent to the real. At the crossroads, at the moment when I, as a writer, take a step and enter the dark play of references, my principles of creation and, specifically, the engines that surround this story are established.


Do you often write at very short lengths, and what challenges and opportunities does it present to you as a writer?

I consider myself a writer of brief texts who has turned to longer fiction and novels as her main mode of expression. Put another way, I’m a poet who writes narrative and a playwright who writes poetry. Short texts are, for me, particles of beauty and horror the writer must be able to reflect, as a bird in flight, on the purity of the text (and its silent impurity). A short story is always an exercise of forces, which allows to handle such essential notions as synthesis and seeks well-rounded stories—sufficiently stand-alone stories to reach a reader with only a few pages. It’s a method, if so desired, of facilitating dialogue with an imaginary interlocutor. Without a doubt, shorter fiction is a challenge. It demands ease and concretion as well as vivid yet hazy characters, full of the power of words to condense a story that, in addition, sheds light and casts shadows.


Who do you consider to be your influences?

Faulkner and Saramago, Rimbaud and Sartre, China Miéville and Samanta Schweblin.


Los años del silencioWhat are you working on now?

This week I’ll start writing the third volume of my trilogy El trono de Ecbactana, a science fiction series that has occupied much of my time. It’s a story about the beauty and ugliness of being human, about its cancers and its allures. In addition, I’m working on a collection of short stories where the real and the fantastic are mixed, and a science fiction novel with the provisional title Chinatown, whose axes of meaning address human trafficking. I’m trying to combine narrative with poetry and dramaturgy, because I suffer from a certain degree of textual hyperkinesia, which makes me feel dissatisfied with a single genre.


Anything else you’d like to add?

I write from Cuba and Canada, two countries that organize my creative discourse—two countries that are polar opposites and constantly force me to move and change my expressive resources. Somehow I feel this metamorphosis, both spatial and symbolic, is my axis of creation. I believe in the mutable. And what changes and breathes.


“Elsinore Revolution” appears in the January/February 2020 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a paper copy of the issue here:

You can buy an electronic copy of the issue here:

You can subscribe to the print edition of F&SF here:

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (all formats):

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The author’s latest book, Los años del silencio, is available for purchase by clicking on its image.

This interview was conducted in Spanish and translated by Toshiya Kamei, who translated “Elsinore Revolution” into English.

Editor’s Note for January-February 2020

Happy New Year and welcome to a new issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. We start the year with “Chisel and Chime” by Alex Irvine. It’s a tense, high stakes fantasy novella about the relationship between art and power. Max Bertolini created the cover that illustrates this story.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February, cover by Max Bertolini

And there’s more great fantasy in this issue. Matthew Hughes returns to the world of Baldemar, the wizard’s henchman, and gives us a taste of the “Air of the Overworld.” Albert E. Cowdrey has a supernatural mystery to solve in an old L.A. hotel with “Falling Angel.” Corey Flintoff returns to our pages and visits a bucolic university town for an “Interlude in Arcadia.” Auston Habershaw gives us the lower class’s view of a familiar fairy tale with “Three Gowns for Clara.” And Melissa Marr makes her first appearance in F&SF with “Nameless,” a Red Riding Hood inspired tale about a feminist utopia invaded by “wolves”: hopefully, you like swords and rage.

Our science fiction offerings are just as diverse. Essa Hansen makes her short fiction debut with “Save, Salve, Shelter,” a dark story about one woman’s effort to save as many animals as she can for the exodus from a ruined Earth. Michael Cassutt brings us “Banshee,” a more hopeful tale about transhumanism and space. Elaine Vilar Madruga, a talented young Cuban writer, delivers the “Elsinore Revolution” and an evolving view of Shakespeare in a translation by Toshiya Kamei. Julianna Baggott turns “The Key to Composing Human Skin,” a story about familial bonds and change. And Rahul Kanakia demonstrates “The Leader Principle” in a story that cleverly updates “The Man Who Sold the Moon” for the twenty-first century.


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

If you’re looking for a copy of this issue, you can find F&SF 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.

71st Year of Publication


“Chisel and Chime” – Alex Irvine


“Save, Salve, Shelter” – Essa Hansen
“Air of the Overworld” – Matthew Hughes
“Banshee” – Michael Cassutt
“Falling Angel” – Albert E. Cowdrey


“Elsinore Revolution” – Elaine Vilar Madruga
“The Key to Composing Human Skin” – Julianna Baggott
“Interlude in Arcadia ” – Corey Flintoff
“Three Gowns for Clara” – Auston Habershaw
“The Nameless” – Melissa Marr
“The Leader Principle” – Rahul Kanakia


Books to Look For by Charles de Lint
Recommended Reading by C.C. Finlay
Film: Ad Astra Per Corde by Karin Lowachee
Science: Where’s My Flying Car? by Jerry Oltion
Curiosities: Man’s Mortality by Michael Arlen (1933) by Rich Horton

Cartoons by Nick Downes, Arthur Masear, Arthur Masear, Kendra Allenby

Cover: By Max Bertolini for “Chisel and Chime”


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

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