Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 2000

Sunrise Blues. S.N. Dyer

A not unknown storyline – linking rock’n’roll with vampires – is handled extremely well through a ‘rockumentary’ approach: a music press/TV documentary on Tom Paine and his seventies mega group Commonsense.

The group achieves success once they are joined by a female drummer, who is very much a night person, and a very strange guitar dude, who looks surprisingly similar to a blues guitarist from several decades back. Very much the kind of story you will either totally like, or totally hate. I fall in the former category.

Mosh. Albert E. Cowdrey.

This novella follows Cowdrey’s story ‘Crux’ in the March 2000 issue of F&SF. A threat to the present through a wormhole attack on the past, designed to prevent the Time of Troubles which set up the current world, has been rebuffed. Empress Xian Xi-Qing raises Yamashita to the status of Chief of Security, following his heroic deeds in defeating this plot. His plan to create a new wormhole to prevent further attacks of this kind leads to the setting up of TimeSurfers, an elite who will travel through time. And on a penal colony, a convict with a grudge is freed.

I can’t tell you much more about the plot due to the fact that I stopped reading after a couple of dozen pages. The story read like a quick novelisation of a poor Hollywood SF action movie, a Paul Verhoeven movie in fact, with his usual cardboard characters, and the plot leaping weeks, months, years at a time.

A Billboard Lovely as a Tree. Robert Loy.

Private Investigator Jack B. Goode returns to F&SF (June 1999 previous appearance). How to describe this story? Well imagine a Police Squad/Naked Gun voice over, attempting to get as many puns as possible into a couple of minutes, with characters from television adverts being the main characters. I liked this a lot, although, others may hate it.

Cloud by van Gogh. Steven Utley.

Utley has written several stories in his time-travel scientists in Silurian times sequence. Half a Loaf appears in Asimovs January 2001, which I rated as fairly weak, and ditto this story, which really is little more than a cameo. Presumably he will bring all of these stories together in a novel at some point, but this as a standalone story doesn’t do much – leave out the fact that the scientist in question is in Silurian times and you have a fairly straightforward character study of a scientist bivouacing on a field trip.

The Godsman and the Goblin. Esther M. Friesner.

If you had said to me that I was going to read and enjoy a story in F&SF with a goblin in it, I would have looked a little askance.

But there isn’t a chain-mail vest, sword, princess or halfling in site in this excellent story. The Reverend James Eldred, for complex reasons which he does not immediately recognise, enters a compact with a friendly goblin whom has been visiting and taking tea (and shortbread). As is the case in such compacts, the Reverend Eldred very soon regrets his actions, and the changeling for which he was swapped his daughter leads him on a merry, but increasingly dark, dance.

Fantasy of the Little, Big type of fantasy, and well worth the read.

Conclusion

The issue starts strongly with the S.N. Dyer vampire/rock story, and closes strongly with The Godsman and the Goblin. Lucius Shephard is listed on the cover, but only contributes a review of the X-Men film. The Steven Utley story is a disappointment, and Mosh, as indicated, didn’t take my fancy sufficient to finish the story. The Robert Loy story in the middle is also enjoyable, giving this issue of F&SF a more than satisfactory content.

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