The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction November/December 2014

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Paul Di Filippo. I’ll Follow the Sun.

According to the editorial introduction, the story is a sly homage to a classic SF story, recently made in the film ‘Predistination’. I’ve not seen that film, nor the recent film ‘Predestination’, and a quick google pointed me Heinlein’s story ‘”-All You Zombies-“‘, a time travel story from way back in 1959 that sounds like it could well have been written by a contemporary writer who travelled back in time, as the issues in it are a bit ‘out there’ for the 1950s.

So, leaving all that stuff aside, we have a time travel story from PDF, an author whose output story-wise, is far below what I would like. He riffs on some other shit as well, as the story features Chan Davis, mathematician and SF writer (who is in The Real Worldtm), who has an alter ego (or at least a costume) of Doctor Strange (I was never into Marvel/DC comics but my younger brother was so I picked up stuff from the comics he left lying around – and I always felt Doctor Strange just a little dubious – having what I would probably identify now as a rather camp theatricality about him).

PDFs story follows a young man in the 1960s who is encouraged by Prof Davis to dodge the Vietnam draft by heading forward in time, to return once the war is over, through the use of D-Space. Young Dan Wishcup heeds this advice, leaving his girl behind, but finds life in 2014 – far shallower and debauched than he would have ever dreamed, with the opportunities the past five decades largely ungrasped. I can sympathise with Dan’s feelings, although it’s taken me 50 years of real time to travel from the mid-1960s to the mid-2010s.

In the end the doesn’t travel back in time, but is reunited with his ex-girl, his ex-girl’s husband (guess who), and his ex-girl’s daughter. And the Dr Strange outfit is worn again.

I’m not entirely sure there’s that much riffing on the Heinlein story more than many other time travel stories, but it’s fun, although Heinlein’s story if it were published today would probably cause more offence than this story, in an issue which the editor describes as dealing with ‘touchy themes’ or going beyond the bounds of Political Correctness.

Tim Sullivan. Yeshua’s Dog.

In the gospel according to Sullivan, Yeshua was a humble storyteller, not so much a prophet as in it for the profit, whose tales were picked up and grew in the translation and the transmission across the region. And the only miracle around him was related to his loyal, oh so loyal dog, Judas, who would not leave his side.

Now if the Christians had included this in their ‘Bible II: the New Testament’, their religion might be in better shape in the UK, who are a dog-loving nation and might consequently kept faith with the faith. Father, Son, Holy Ghost and Judas The Dog would still be putting bums on pews.

Justin Barbeau. Nanabojou at the World’s Fair.

A fable about the arrival at the St Louis World’s Fair of 1904 of the native American god, who gets amongst the white men and gives them a fully authentic picture of his people.

Rand B. Lee. The Judging.

Back in the May/June 2013 issue of F&SF I noted that I enjoyed the story ‘Changes‘, and that it was a setting I’d like to see more of.

Truth be told that story ended in a way to make a sequel clearly an option, even a necessity, and I’m pleased to see this story picking up from where the last left off, with Whitsun, the red-robed man, and his companions, Francesco the burro and Treats the (talking) Husky, meeting up with a community who seem strangle unaffected by the ravages of ‘The Great Probability Storm’. Other communities have been wracked by changes to their very essence, so why have these people survived? And surely these people are the same as Whitsun saw/foresaw earlier, crucified and burnt under the pitiless sun….

Another strong installment, and a challenging look at humans and the way they act in the face of adversity.

Scott Baker. Feral Frolics.

SF writers tend to be cat lovers, and here Baker tells a salutary tale, suggesting a good reason for not getting on the wrong side of Felis catus.

KJ Kabza. The Bomb-Thing.

Chan Davis makes his second appearance this issue, by way of being the name of a research department in a university where some leading-edge research in underway.

Blaine works nearby, and Mason is his best friend. His very best friend. (But Blaine isn’t gay, he stresses). Into this mix comes a stunner, Phyllis, not dressed for the season, but dressed to grab Mason’s attention. She professes to be a math nerd and is keen to get access to the university, and Mason is pleased to offer his services (he has an ulterior motive).

However, it transpires that there is a reason for Phyllis looking out of this world, and Blaine, Mason and Phyllis find the ‘bomb-thing’ and suddenly they’re in all altogether different place, and all is revealed.

Blaine has to come to terms with the loss of his friendship with Mason, but Phyllis is surprisingly accommodating, and he does get the girl/guy in the end (but he’s not gay you understand).

A gently amusing story.

David Gerrold. The Old Science Fiction Writer.

A cautionary tale from an old SF writer, which looks at current trends and ponders just what chance there might be for old-fashioned storytelling in decades to come. There’s a neat twist in the tale as the nature of the kindly old grandparent is revealed.

Michael Libling. Hollywood North.

There are some dark secrets in the otherwise quiet town of Trenton, Ontario, which are gradually revealed in this lengthy story. Known locally as Hollywood North due to its old movie industry, we follow a young protagonist as he buddies up with a slightly older boy in the habit of finding things (out), with movie title boards from pre-talkie movies interspersing the action.

As the story develops, we find out more about where the heart of darkness lies.

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