Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - October/November 2007
by Gordon Van Gelder
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Max Bertolini
Review by Sam Tomaino
Date: 26 July 2007 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
This month, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction gives us the October/November Double Issue, always something special. There are Exceptional stories from Albert E. Cowdrey and Michael Swanwick that will make my Hugo short list next year. We also have Very Good stories by Judith Moffett, Fred Chapell, Robert Silverberg, Daryl Gregory and a nice debut story by new author M. Ramsey Chapman.
I always look forward to the October/November issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and 2007's does not disappoint.
The best stories are from Albert E. Cowdrey and Michael Swanwick. Cowdrey is a resident of New Orleans who had to evacuate when Hurricane Katina struck. He has set many of his stories in the Crescent City and now, in "The Recreation Room", he finally deals with the worst disaster in modern New Orleans history. Jim Guest is returning to his ruined house, 5 weeks after Katrina. Years before, a woman had made a grim forecast about his attic. What will he find when he gets there?
We are told that Swanwick's "Urdenheim" is "a creation myth told by the inhabitants" of his forthcoming novel, The Dragons of Babel, but only available here. In a story that echoes the biblical Book of Exodus in several ways, a people are led out of bondage by their king, Nimrod, but they have to face great dangers until they are truly free. Based on this story, I will be looking forward to the novel.
All but two of the rest of the stories got a Very Good from me. Judith Moffett's "The Bird Shaman's Girl" is set in the world of her novels about an invasion of Earth by a race called the Hefn. They have imposed strict environmental controls and this is resented by many (as it would by me). It has also spawned a cult of followers called the Gaians. In this story, a Gaian must find a girl abducted by a not-very-thinly-disguised Mormon Church. In doing so she discovers things about herself. Fred Chapell gives us another story about Shadow Master Adolfo in "The Diamond Shadow". Adolfo and his assistants Falco and Mutano must discover why the Countess Trinia's diamond is showing a strange shadow. In "Against the Current" by Robert Silverberg, a man gets into his Prius in 2008 and begins a journey back through time. Daryl Gregory's "Unpossible" features a man who is all alone, but finds his way to another land. Finally, of the stories I liked is the first published story of a new writer, M. Ramsey Chapman. A taxi driver named Jack drops a woman named April at her home. There is something strange about both of them which I will not spoil. I especially liked the last line of this story.
In an issue as large as this one, the odds are that there are some stories that won't work for me. Paul Park's "Fragrant Goddess" spends all its time in the mind of a man obsessed with a Renaissance scientist. I could not really find the man interesting or believable. In "The Star to Every Wandering Barque" by James Stoddard, a strange force changes the world one night. All the evil people become good and everyone does what is right for everyone else. The world becomes a Socialist Utopia and man can finally go to the stars. I didn't believe this one for a minute.
But those were just minor annoyances, this is an issue that gives us two Hugo-worthy novels and a talented new author. Buy it!