Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – September 2007
by Gordon Van Gelder
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Bryn Barnard
Review by Sam Tomaino
Date: 01 July 2007 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The September 2007 of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is an utter delight. It features a novelet by Ted Chiang which I think is exceptional, rounded out by very different novelets by Alexander Jaboklov and John Langan. Robert Reed contributes another of his highly unique tales. Albert E. Cowdrey, Heather Lindsey and Kevin N. Haw give us three funny short stories.
When I saw the table of contents of the September 2007 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, I must say that I was worried. I had not much cared for Ted Chiang's Hugo-Winning "Hell is the Absence of God" and I wondered what I was in for. My fears proved groundless.
In "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate", Ted Chiang gives us an utterly delightful tale set (in part) in ancient Baghdad. A merchant finds an alchemist who has a portal through time. From Baghdad, he can travel 20 years into the future and from Cairo, he can travel 20 years into the past or future. He is told three tales of people who had used the portal in Cairo. What the merchant decides to do concludes all these tales in a wonderful way. This will make my Hugo Short List, next year!
The other novelets in the issue are very different but got a Very Good from me. "Episode Seven: Last Stand Against the Pack in the Kingdom of the Purple Flowers" by John Langan is written in a style that makes it a tough read. But the very style adds to the excitement of two people on the run from vicious beasts after the world has suffered a sudden deadly plague. Alexander Jaboklov's "Wrong Number" starts with a woman remembering an incident at a party years ago. A creepy guy had asked for her telephone number and she had given him a deliberately wrong one. Her friend helps her by introducing her to the crew at (of all things) an auto body shop.
The short stories (all Very Good) include two by regular F&SF contributors Robert Reed & Albert E. Cowdrey and they do not disappoint. Reed's "If We Can Save Just One Child..." extrapolates the use of profiling techniques and facial databases. One man gets on a wrong list and must deal with the consequences. Cowdrey contributes a hilarious tale in "Envoy Extraordinary". Diplomat Vincent Khartoum is sent to deal with a tin-horn dictator on the planet Malakatha and has a hard time of it. Cowdrey's wry sense of humor comes into play big-time here. "Atalanta Loses at the InterpantheonicTrivia Bee" by Heather Lindsey is a exceptionally funny romp through mythology. Kevin N. Haw's short-short "Requirements for the Mythology Merit Badge" details a world in which things have changed in a very dramatic way.
I know I'm repeating myself, but, once again, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is a magazine you should be subscribing to.