Most covers for Fantasy & Science Fiction illustrate a particular story. But in 1975, when public interest in NASA and space exploration seemed to be declining, David A. Hardy created an illustration to draw attention to NASA’s work and make space seem fun again. He named the alien Bhen (we’ll find out why in an interview with Bhen coming to the blog on Friday), and over the next 40 years the fun-loving big green alien appeared on a dozen F&SF covers, including the current November/December 2015 issue.
Here are all the covers, collected in one place for the first time.
(To see high resolution images of the Bhen illustrations, uncluttered by F&SF logos and text, as well some of Bhen’s non-F&SF appearances, visit David Hardy’s webpage at www.astroart.org.)
Some images courtesy of sfcovers.net.
But let’s talk about the issue!
David Hardy’s cover for this month’s issue features the return of Bhen. The mischievous green alien has been having fun with NASA’s toys for forty years. His very first appearance was with the Viking Lander on the November 1975 issue of F&SF. It seems only fitting that he celebrates the anniversary by showing up on Mars again, this time with ESA’s ExoMars rover, due to land in 2018.
Later this week, we’ll be posting a retrospective of all of David Hardy’s Bhen covers for F&SF from the past four decades, as well as an interview with the alien himself. If you must have more Hardy now, you can visit his website at www.astroart.org.
This month’s novella goes with the cover’s theme of space exploration.
Although Carter Scholz has been writing science fiction for decades, this is the first time he has turned his attention to the very hard problem of interstellar travel. Even though this story is set only twenty-five years into the future, it’s meticulously grounded in current science and research.
Gardner Dozois has called it “perhaps the best SF novella of the year.” Gypsy is also available in book form from PM Press, as part of Terry Bisson’s Outspoken Authors series.
The issue opens with “The Winter Wraith” by Jeffrey Ford, a haunting holiday story set in the bleak Ohio countryside. Tim Sullivan returns to the heavy gravity millieu of Cet Four with “Hob’s Choice: (seen previously in “The Nambu Egg” in F&SF, Jul/Aug 2013). “The Thirteen Mercies” by Maria Dahvana Headley’s is first appearance in F&SF. It’s a dark fantasy with crocodiles and war magic.
KJ Kabza gives a short, thoughtful fantasy with “Her Echo.” Harvey Jacobs lightens up the issue with “The Fabulous Follicle.” Bruce McAllister offers up “Dreampet,” a science fiction story that began life as a Hollywood move pitch. And Naomi Kritzer returns to these pages with “Cleanout,” her first new story not set in the Seastead universe.
The issue closes with “It’s All Relative at the Space-Time Café” by Norman Birnbach, which is a short celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Einstein’s “Theory of General Relativity” in 1915. And then Lisa Mason explores the fate of all time and space with her new novelet, “Tomorrow is a Lovely Day.”
You’ll also find “Phases,” a new poem by Sophie White, and…
Every issue features one story that we also offer for free download online, via our free electronic digest for Kindle. This month’s free story — which you can also find in the print edition — is “The City of Your Soul” by Robert Reed. Even if you don’t subscribe to the magazine, you can click on this link and read Reed’s story and all the columns in the issue for free.
Charles de Lint tells you why you should read new books by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Melissa F. Olson, Hayley Campbell, and A. G. Riddle.
Michelle West reviews new work by Mark Z. Danielewski, Clive Barker, and Neal Stephenson.
Elizabeth Hand considers Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell, and Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown, along with David Nicholson’s debut collection.
Film and television critic Kathi Maio reviews “Self/Less” and “Advantageous,” and offers her thoughts on the Netflix series “Sense8.”
And in our regular “Curiosities” column, Douglas A. Anderson reconsiders The Capture of Nina Carroll by Arthur Thrush, published in 1924.
We also publish the winners to Reader Competition #90, “Game of Prose,” and introduce Competition #91, “It’s All Relative.”
We think it’s another great issue. We hope you’ll read it and share your thoughts about it on one of these sites:
- Twitter: @fandsf
- Facebook: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
- Goodreads: F&SF
- F&SF Forums: Nov.-Dec. 2015 issue
In the meantime… enjoy!
Fantasy & Science Fiction
The contracts have all been accepted, so here’s a list of the new stories we bought in August that will be coming soon to an issue near you:
- “Cupid’s Compass” by Leah Cypess
- “A Mother’s Arms” by Sarina Dorie
- “The Desert of Vanished Dreams” by Phyllis Eisenstein
- “Killer” by Bruce McAllister
- “Last One Out” by Karen Birkedahl Rylander
- “Those Shadows Laugh” by Geoff Ryman
- “Caribou: Documentary Fragments” by Joseph Tomaras
The Dorie, Eisenstein, and Ryman stories are novelets. The Dorie story is a sequel to “The Day of the Nuptial Flight” (Jul/Aug 2014) and the Eisenstein story is a new Alaric adventure.
The contracts have all been accepted, so here’s a list of the new stories we bought in July that will be coming soon to an issue near you:
- “The Language of the Silent” by Sheila Finch and Juliette Wade
- “Rockets Red” by Mary Robinette Kowal
- “Coyote Song” by Pat MacEwen
- “Dunnage for the Soul” by Robert Reed
MacEwen’s story is a novella, drawing on her years as a CSI and war crimes investigator. The Finch-Wade and Reed stories are novelets. “The Language of the Silent” is a new entry in the Guild of Xenolinguists series. The Kowal story a prequel to “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” and the original story from her new collection. We’ll publish it around the same time her new book comes out.
– Tell us a bit about “The Bone War.”
“The Bone War” is the story of an independent scholar–in this case, a Wizard–who is hired to do some consulting work for a university and discovers the joys of navigating academic politics.
It’s much more fun than that makes it sound. ;)
– What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?
Well, two things. Two of my friends are in the midst of academic job searches, and I’ve been hearing their woes on that front. The story is for them–Arkady Martine and Liz Bourke. Also, a couple of years ago, a fan…and for my sins, her name escapes me now–gave me a piece of fan art about Bijou and an apatosaurus, and I was instantly convinced I needed to write that story! (The Titan in The Bone War is modeled on a Giraffatitan, however!)
– “The Bone War” is set in the universe of your Eternal Sky series of books. Can you tell us about the world of those books?
It’s… big. It’s a world I’ve been working on, in one way or another, for over twenty years at this point–stitching bits on and telling stories in corners. It emerged as a response to my frustration with epic fantasy worlds that are big, but static–they seem to have no history, and they seem to have no economics and no technological growth. Those worlds that get stuck in or around 1100 or thereabouts forever, basically.
Bijou’s part of the milieu is very equivalent to the 1800s or early 1900s (depending on what part of her life we’re talking about, though apparently they had roaring twenties style motorcars a lot earlier in her world) in an area that would be similar to North Africa in our world, though there are some significant differences. But I’ve also written some short stories set in various other parts of the setting, and one full-length epic fantasy trilogy (The Eternal Sky), which would have taken place about 400 years before the Bijou stories and in the central plains of a completely different continent. Now, I’m just about a hundred pages or less from finishing the first volume of *another* trilogy (The Lotus Kingdoms) that take place about 50 years after that story ends. I have some idea of the cultures of the entire Western hemisphere of this world, and a broad grasp of about 2000 years of its history. I’d love to have the opportunity to keep exploring that!
“The Bone War” appears in the September/October 2015 issue of F&SF. You can buy it here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1509.htm
You can subscribe to F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm