The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 2008

James Stoddard. The First Editions.

Fantasy, in which a bibliophile falls afoul of a fellow collector, a mage who turns him, and his life, into a book, stored on his shelves to be read at leisure, filed amongst other unfortunates now in bookform. He is unwilling to accept his place on the shelves, and true love appears to beckon, and he must lead a rebellion against their bookish captor. I’d have expected, as someone with a degree in librarianship, to have liked the story more, but simply too fantastical for my tastes, with my mind’s eye picture the books a la Disney ‘Beauty and Beast’ anthropormorphic cartoon characters.

Robert Reed. Five Thrillers.

A very strong story from Reed – it could in fact be mistaken as a Gene Wolfe. The only irritant for me is that the title isn’t going to lodge my mind as being ‘the story in which one man makes some major sacrifices, and sacrifices others, many others, for the greater good, in a story which spans time, what is is to be human, and, in the end, the virtual annhilation of the human race, as he, the last President urges those few remain to keep the light burning to wreak a revenge on those who have brought us to near extinction’.

Kevin N. Haw. Render Unto Caesar.

After a masterful story from an SF master, a short piece from a new writer. It’s not the best juxtaposition for Haw, in a story that doesn’t have all that much to say, but which is further weakened by an authorial quote which pretty much gives us the everything the story has to offer – Congress is looking at how financial assets in online worlds such as Second Life could be taxed. So then, it is no surprise that in the story, a Grand Warrior of the Troll Army, erm, finds the taxman on her doorstep.

Tim Sullivan. The Nocturnal Adventure of Dr. O and Mr. D.

In which the loqacious Dr. O and his similarly verbose friend Mr. D. take a stroll in the misty streets.

Kate Wilhelm. The Fountain of Neptune.

Upon receiving a diagnosis of a terminal illness, a young woman decides to head to Italy, and then to Rome. In coming to terms with her future (or lack of it), she notices that a photograph of the famous fountain of Neptune in Piazza Navona looks just slightly different to previous photographs. Further investigation confirms that indeed the fountain is not carved in stone – or if it is, it is a stone that is in a state of fluidity, albeit noticeable only over a very long period. Can the god Netunne offer her a future?

Steven Utley. The 400-Million Year Itch.

I guess other SF writers must be green with envy at writers who get themselves a sequence of stories which several editors are happy to feature in their own magazines! Here one of the Silurian chrononauts, now aged, has memories of the early days prompted by a journo, but decides to keep them to herself.

Conclusion

For those of you who lean towards SF rather than F, Reed provides the goods in spades, one of his stronger stories of late

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