The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 2009

Fred Chappel. Shadow of the Valley.

When protagonist Falco previously appeared in F&SF in ‘Dance of Shadows’ I wroteth :

    If you like your fantasy wordy and with loquacious characters using verbose and flowery language, and with a mystery to be solved, you’ll enjoy this story.

and a cursory glanceth suggesteth the same comment. Worthy of note is editor Gordon van Gelder’s habit of reprinting precursor stories on the F&SF website for the benefit of readers.

Charles Coleman Finlay. The Texas Bake Sale.

Dark warning of what could possibly come – a US very much no longer united, with petrol being a vanishingly rare, and valuable commodity. Some armed men are operating under a once-proud flag in a once-noble branch of the armed forces, but it’s a grubby, violent (and often short) life.

Jack Cady. The Night We Buried Road Dog.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch introduces this lengthy piece, noting the struggle she had when editing F&SF in getting the lengthy novella into the magazine. She credits current editor Gordon van Gelder for acceding to her suggestion for the story to be this month’s ‘classic reprint’, and notes it is one of those stories that gets better with age, and suggests that if you did read it a while back, you should read it again.

Well I did read it a while back, in Dozois’ 11th Annual collection back in 1994, and I summarised briefly, as was my wont then :

    Supernatural story about cars and the long-dead twin who became Road Dog.

Well, I reckon it would be difficult to summarise the story in fewer words whilst doing it any kind of justice. I can vouchsafe (I am the type which can vouchsafe) that a re-reading is well worth the effort, as it is a supremely classy story full of evocative landscapes, characters which give every indication of being real people with their own lives of which we gather just a peek.

Mario Milosevic. Winding Broomcorn.

Not entirely sure what broomcorn is, but a bereaved widower (is there any other kind I hear you ask) who makes brooms from them, finds that a broom commissioned by a passing visitor gives him the chance to look deep into himself and brush away the spiritual cobwebs.

Eugene Mirabelli. Catalog.

Terry Bisson’s ‘In the Upper Room’ back in 1997 was a treat, involving a man who finds himself in the world of the lingerie catalog. Mirabelli’s protagonist finds himself in a world that is a mashup of his own personal bibliographic and magazine favourties, and has to come to terms with his new existence.

Conclusion.

Cady’s the strongest story by far

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