The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July-Aug 2013

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KJ Kabza. The Color of Sand.

Ekeing out a living on a remote beach, a woman and her son find the shards they have been collecting to sell to tourists have more to offer.

Adam Rakunas. Oh Give Me A Home.

When someone comes a-callin’ with a fistful of court papers and takes away your genmod mini-bisons, well a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Oliver Buckram. Half a Conversation, Overheard While Inside an Enormous Sentient Slug.

The title explains all. Certainly by far the best xeno-gastropodic monologue that I’ve ever read.

Chen Qiufan. The Year of the Rat.

I tend to prefer stories where the introduction, instead of saying that the author lives with x number of cats, gives a Caveat Lector. This story, we are informed, was found by some early readers to be ‘extremely unsettling’. Perhaps by early readers editor GvG means that the story was read by children in Grade 3 with early reading skills? Or maybe my lack of unsettlement is testament to a jaded reader who read A Clockwork Orange almost 40 years ago.

Or perhaps the readers kept pet rats, as the story looks at (btw the story is translated by Ken Liu) a Chinese perspective on dealing with rats who, thanks to human intervention, are posing quite a problem. Although I can own up to a minor flicker of sympathy for one of the recruits, least suited to a life in uniform.

Eleanor Arnason. Kormak the Lucky.

A story I skipped through after a few fairly bland pages. Not a huge amount of description or characterisation, and at times it feels more like a Readers Digest version of a fat fantasy trilogy, or else a story written for 10year olds. The dialogue is utilitarian, and there’s no depth or flavour or anything out of the ordinary.

Ken Altabef. The Woman Who Married the Snow.

Having given the shortest of short shrift to the previous fantasy story in this issue, but this one was much more to my liking, with a very definite sense of place, character and depth. The story features Inuit shaman Ulruk, who features in a series of epic fantasy novels, which you can find out more about at http://www.wayoftheshamanonline.com/ although by way of caveat tinternet, let me say that this story is w-a-y better than that cheesy website or bookcovers would suggest (no offense Mr Altabef, but your website and book covers do you a serious disservice!)

Anyhoo, something is found underneath the ice in an Inuit settlement, and forces beyond normal ken, which only Ulruk can attempt to control/influence are called upon, but whilst the wishes of the widow to be reunited with her drowned-dead husband are

Harvey Jacobs. The Miracle Cure.

Tongue in cheek story in which aliens have indeed being visiting Earth, the gall of it!, finding something of value in us humans. Having mined one source, the aliens are after more piles of cash.

Harry R. Campion. The Heartsmith’s Daughters.

Excellent dark fantasy tale of love, and just how the strength of love can be. A blacksmith has promised is wife daughters, and has to take matters into his own smithy hands, when time is against him. And the daughters he fashions are to protect his wife. It’s a well-wrought, poetic story, with a feeling of an old English folk song.

Tim Sullivan. The Nambu Egg.

An SF story that failed to engage, on two counts your honour. Count 1 is that that vast majority of the story is dialogue between two people, and it just feels like you’re reading a script. Count 2 the Second is that the protagonist, namely one Adam Naraya, knows a heap load more (no, let’s not mince words, he knows shitloads more) than he’s letting on to his target, and, more importantly, to the reader. He’s holding all the aces and poor Naraya doesn’t even know he’s in a card game for high stakes until the last moment.

Rus Wornom. In the Mountains of Frozen Fire

The full title lets you know what you’re in for : ‘In the Mountains of Frozen Fire by Denis Winslow Mallard Codswallop Bourginon Cushing as recounted by the Official Enigma Club Raconteur, Rus Wornom (Originaly published in The Enigma Club All-Adventure Magazine, June, 1919)’.

Yup, it’s what I shall call a ‘homage du fromage’, namely a cheesy tribute to the pulp stories that entertained people a century ago. There’s an oriental enemy called Slung Lo – (I spose we should be grateful for small mercies in that Wornom could have gone the whole hog and called him Won Hung Lo, with a female Vietnamese sidekick called Phat Ho). But if you like your homage du fromage served with a trowel, this is the story for you, and I hereby award Mr Wornom The First All-Best SF Annual Homage du Fromage Golden Trowel, for laying it on so very, very thick.

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