The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May/June 2014

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David D. Levine. The End of the Silk Road.

Set in the same setting as Levine’s ‘The Wreck of the Mars Adventure’ in the Gardner Dozois/GRR Martin anthology’ Old Mars’.

As my earliest memories of SFF are the Burroughs’ Mars and Venus stories, I took a shine to the story at first – with its ERBpunk vibe, with the protagonist setting out for Venus in a silk-balloon powered vessel. However the story didn’t keep me engaged, as it became a more straightforward, albeit tongue in cheek, detective set on the swampy second plant with it’s froglike indigenous race.

Alyssa Wong. The Fisher Queen.

A first professional sale from Wong. She takes a relatively well-trodded trope in fantasy, that of the selkie and their relationships with humans. Fortunately, she tells her tale well, telling the story through the eyes of a young man, whose eyes are opened up to exactly what humans are, and what they can do to those at their mercy.

Pavel Amnuel. White Curtain.
Translated by Anatoly Belilovsky, following it’s original appearance in 2007 in Realnost Fantastiki.

A bereaved theoretical physicist tracks down an old colleague and ex-rival for the love of his now year-long dead wife. He is desperate for his ex-colleague to disprove his own principle, that there is a finite range of possibilities in the branching multiverse. This isn’t a purely academic issue, as he wants his theory disproven to bring his wife back.

Is there a way of tying different branches together to achieve this? His colleague thinks not.

There will be some branches of reality where the reader of the story will be surprised by the ending, and some branches where they will not.

Oliver Buckram. Presidential Cryptotrivia.

The true stories behind US Presidents, from Washington to Obama, testing your knowledge and appreciation of a wide range of ‘stuff’. ie ‘Grover Cleveland – America’s Second Muppet President’.

Katie Boyer. Bartleby the Scavenger.

6In F&SF, with its strong fantasy focus, you might see a title such as ‘Bartleby the Scavenger’ and think you’re in for medieval type fantasy. Far from it.

Boyer provides a bleak, near-future, post-apocalyptic scenario, with the narrator having had the role of scavenging in the city ruins to find valuable items for the tight-knit community of survivors, led by a Mayor. And in the use of ‘having had’ we have the crux of the story, as he relates how he is now no longer a productive member of the community, partly due to the (in)action of his erstwhile work colleague, Bartleby. The Elder Care Panel has made its decision on their future….

It’s a lengthy story, and keeps the reader’s attention throughout.

Marc Laidlaw. Rooksnight.

Further adventures of the bard Gorlen and his gargoyle Spar.

Tim Sullivan. The Memory Cage.

Deep in space some scientific mumbo-jumbo involving ‘uber-symmetry’, ‘complementary particles’, and ‘superpositioning’ allows a man to confront his dead father.

He has issues with the manner of his father’s leaving : suicide after his oldest son’s death in action. Can he resolve these issues and lose the anger he feels, and move on in his tech-enhanced life?

p.s. the answer is ‘yes’, although there isn’t really a strong (enough for me) reason for him doing so

Jonathan Andrew Sheen. The Shadow in the Corner.

Lovecraftian horror as the shadow in the corner is enough to…

Naomi Kritzer. Containment Zone : a Seastead Story.

Further adventures of teen Beck Garrison on the independent seastead communities, facing up to the latest challenges, with her dad, as ever, on her case.

Conclusion

Boyer’s Bartleby the Scavenger a strong story that kept me engrossed, but the rest of the issue much less so.

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