9/30/08 Fantasy & Science Fiction, Oct/Nov 2008 60th Anniversary Issue
Disclaimer #1 If your tastes differ greatly from mine, you may love stories I hate and hate stories I love.
Disclaimer #2 I’m reviewing stories, not bodies of work. I might love everything an author writes except this one story, or love one story here but find everything else by that author boring.
Disclaimer #3 I started reading sf magazines thirteen years before editor Gordon Van Gelder was born. I’m probably at least a bit jaded.
Short stories: Nine.
I very much liked Michael Swanwick’s “The Scarecrow’s Boy.” It’s an original story made up of familiar elements: a child in danger, the US under a dictatorship, a robot thinks and acts for himself much more than he was ever intended to. I cared about the characters, and I liked what Swanwick did with those familiar elements.
M. Rickert’s “Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment: One Daughter’s Personal Story” is also set in a dystopian future America.” Unlike the Swanwick, this didn’t work for me. One large reason: the rulers belong to a political group (one kind of religious fanatic) which I don’t think is capable of taking power. (Swanwick leaves his dictatorship’s ideology unspecified.)
Albert E. Cowdrey’s “Inside Story” is set in New Orleans; and I feel that Cowdrey knows the city well. It’s a humorous story, and I don’t share Cowdrey’s sense of humor.
Steven Utley, “Sleepless Years.” A horror story about involuntary immortality. Well written, but not my cup of blood.
Stephen King, “The <i>New York Times</i> at Special Bargain Rates.” Woman gets a phone call from her dead husband. It’s reasonably good Stephen King.
Scott Bradfield, “Dazzle Joins the Screenwriter’s Guild.” Dazzle is a dog with human-level intelligence (probably more intelligent than most of the humans he meets in this story.) I found Dazzle interesting, but not the human characters. Note: If you would need to know how Dazzle’s intelligence was enhanced, this is not the story for you. I suspect it’s explained in the 1988 story “Dazzle.”
Laurel Winter, “Going Back in Time.” Amusing piece about quantum mechanics and love.
Terry Bisson, “Private Eye.” I expected a hard-boiled detective story. It does have that flavor, but Private Eye means something different here. I liked this better than anything else Bisson’s written since <i>Talking Man</i>
Carol Emshwiller, “Whoever.” The narrator has amnesia. I didn’t detect any fantasy or science fiction elements.
Geoff Ryman, “Days of Wonder.” A future with no pure humans — or, apparently, no pure mammal species of any kind. There are only human-animal hybrids. One person sets out to change the world.
The setting is good, the characters come to life, the plot is good. Why didn’t I like the story? I don’t know.
Robert Reed, “The Visionaries.”
“Everyone is an unmitigated failure.
“And then success comes, or it doesn’t.”
It’s about a way of seeing into the future, a man who’s part of this, and the people he sees. It does some things very well; I particularly liked the ending.
Tim Sullivan, “Planetismal Dawn.” Space opera and time opera. Good background, good characters.
Paul Di Fillippo, “Plumage From Pegasus: Till Human Voices Shake Us, and We Frown.” Humorous piece which I found mildly amusing.
Nonfiction: Six. Two book columns. One film column. Results of the latest competition, and rules for the next one.
Paul Doherty and Pat Murphy, “Science: Rocks in Space.” Worth reading, and at one time I would probably have loved this. These days, I find more than enough science reading on the Web.
“Curiosities” is about odd books: speculative fiction or nearly spec-fic. This issue’s reviewer is Fred Chappell, describing <i>Rainbow on the Road</i> by Esther Forbes.
Poems: One. Sophie M. White, “December 22, 2012.”