Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - May 2006
by Gordon Van Gelder (Ed.)
Spilogale, Inc. zine ISBN/ITEM#: MAGF&SF060
Date: March 2006 /
Table of Contents: Novelets: A Herd of Opportunity -5- Matthew Hughes / Journey into the Kingdom -132- M. Rickert Short Stories: Bea and Her Bird Brother -52- Gene Wolfe / Passing Through -60- Charles Coleman Finlay / Show Me Yours -79- Robert Reed / Diluvium -87- Steven Utley / Billy and the Fairy -99- Terry Bisson / Imitation of Life -105- Albert E. Cowdrey Departments: Books to Look For -39- Charles de Lint / Books -43- Elizabeth Hand / Plumage from Pegasus: A Black Hole Ate My Homework -75- Paul Di Filippo / Coming Attractions -125- / Films: It Looks Larger in a Small Box -126- Kathi Maio / F&SF Competition #71 -159- / Curiosities -162- Dennis Lien / Cartoons: S. Harris (38), J.P. Rini (51), Arthur Masear (74), Bill Long (131) / Cover: Michael Dashow for "A Herd Of Opportunity"
The May 2006 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has many of the usual suspects and that's a very good thing. This is another excellent issue with nothing to disappoint.
The best story and the one that gets a rating of great from me is the cover story, "A Herd of Opportunity" by Matthew Hughes. Hughes continues to write stories that remind me of Jack Vance and I can pay him no greater compliment. This is another Old Earth story with Guth Bandar as the hero but this one takes place when Bandar is still a student at the Institute of Historical Inquiry. We learn a little more about The Commons, "the collective unconscious wherein all our dreams are made manifest." It seems that each species has its own Commons and that there are barriers separating them which cannot be breached. In this story, Bandar and his superior, Preceptor Huffley, travel to the planet Gamza to find out why the native Bololos seem to be channeling human archetypes. What follows is a wonderful story with the bizarre characters that we have come to expect from Hughes. He is one of my favorite new writers and I love his stories with Guth Bandar as well as those with Henghist Hapthorn. Someday, I'd like to see a crossover story in which they team up but that's because I read too many comic books. Even though both these characters are part of Old Earth culture, I don't even know if they're contemporary. Also, their stories are very different. Still, I have faith that Hughes could pull it off.
The rest of the stories all get a Very Good from me but with the talent involved, that's not surprising. "Journey into the Kingdom" by M. Rickert is a dark little ghost story that begins with a young woman falling victim to a breath-stealing ghost which also steals her life. She meets a man grieving the loss of his wife and the story grows darker still. Albert E. Cowdrey is best known for his horror stories set in New Orleans. His latest, "Imitation of Life", is something completely different. It is set in a future Earth in which big cities have been abandoned and everyone lives in small towns. Set in a version of England in that time, the story is told quite consciously like something out of Jane Austen. A spinster with the name of Emma Smythe-Denby hides a man named Martin Ffrench-Dobbyn from an angry mob in her home. To do this, she disguises him as a love-bot that she names Roderick. Things develop from there to a very funny conclusion. "Passing Through" is by Charles Coleman Finlay and very different from recent stories that he's done. Roberta Baumgartner is an old woman, living in Northern Ohio, who, it appears, is haunted by a ghost. She also has other issues with modern times and we are not sure what to make of her. Slowly we find out her story, what has been haunting her and what she must do about it. All this makes for a memorable tale.
In "Diluvium", Stephen Utley gives us another story in his series about an anomaly that takes people back to the Paleozoic Age. There is quite a tourist trade going on and a resident scientist is surprised to encounter a Creationist who thinks he is only a few thousand years in the past, just after the Flood. They have an interesting conversation and the story ends on a bit of a surprise. Robert Reed can always be counted on for something unusual. "Show Me Yours" starts as a encounter between a young woman and her roommate's date for that night but we know something else is going on. Reed does not disappoint and gives us a very good end to the story. The last two stories are by two masters in the field and are quite short so I won't go into too much detail other than that they both live up to their writer's standards. In "Bea and her Bird Brother" by Gene Wolfe, a woman finds out something unusual about her heritage from her father on his deathbed. Terry Bisson's "Billy and the Fairy" tells about a young boy's encounter with a fairy in a darkly comic tale.
The issue is rounded out by a "Plumage from Pegasus" story by Paul Di Filippo, again showing why this is the best magazine on the market. Subscribe!
(Source: Spilogale, Inc.)