Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction: December 2005
Rating: No Rating
So I’m going to try and mix it up: a novel, a mag. I’ll do this till I get through my back issues and then actually read the magazines as I get them.
by Delia Sherman
This is a cute story, but it really didn’t catch my interest. It’s a fantasy blended with magical realism that didn’t quite work for me, cause while the sudden appearance of the house startled people, it really wasn’t made a big deal of. Granted, it’s probably because the owners were witches and could charm people, but still. And while it was cute that the mom and daughter ended up being closet witches, I didn’t like the sense of it suddenly being sprung on our narrator. She recognized her daughter was different, but in terms of herself, the little clues weren’t enough. I didn’t think she was special, just that she had a green thumb.
But it wasn’t badly written. It just wasn’t my taste, and it was unpredictable in a way that wasn’t satisfying for me.
“Poppies by Moonlight”
by Sydney J. Van Scyoc
I can’t say I was too impressed with this piece. The writing was fine, but the characters felt distant, despite the fact the main character did come to a realization and make a decision about her life in the end. And I did like the paranormal element of this piece. Kind of neat, though it reminded me of a more spiritual version of a story a friend of mine wrote. Ultimately, though, this story was tough to get into and I wanted more from the relationships than I actually got.
“An Incident at the Luncheon of the Boating Party”
by Allen Steele
I was quite excited to read something non-Coyote related by Allen Steele, and this is a cute little story. I can’t say I cared too much for the first-person POV, though, nor the little opening, despite the fact it is a hook. But I figured out quickly that our narrator would end up in a painting; however, I liked how the situation played out. If you’re going to go back to change the timeline, getting immortalized in a famous work of art is definitely the way to go.
However, the title of this story? Totally bland. The tone of it doesn’t even fit the story. Alas. He must’ve been in Coyote mode when he wrote this.
by Robert Reed
A cute story up until the very end, with the final swimming scene. I guess the protagonist died? I think the best part of the story was the daughter setting her father straight for “selling out” with his latest book, and the proposal for the next book was wonderfully biting. Still though, that ending…kinda weird, kind of off. Unless the whole “The Cure” experience was a life after death hallucination, I’m still scratching my head. Hell, I’m scratching my head anyway, even if it was a life-after death hallucination, cause if that was the case, what’s the point?
“When the Great Days Came”
by Gardner Dozois
This is an interesting piece: told from the point of view of a rat, we get an omniscient narrative of a rat’s life in the city. Heavy focus on setting, and no silly details of giving the rat a human name or human thoughts or adding a fantastic plot. In fact, I was just getting to the end of the story, wondering how in the WORLD it was speculative fiction (being from the POV of a rat does not count, for me), when the needed ingredient landed on the last page, giving the reader plenty of food for thought. So it was a good story, but I’d almost more interested in the society that evolves out of this ending.
“The Last Akialoa”
by Alan Dean Foster
As warned, this particular story wasn’t speculative fiction. It had a grand setting and focused on an professor, a grad student, and a guide in search of the rumored-to-be-extinct bird, the Akialoa. It’s one of those settings natives are afraid of, where people disappear and are never found again, that sort of thing.
It’s an okay story. I’ve never really been fond of Foster’s work, but he doesn’t do omniscient POV too badly, for those of you interested in that. Other than that, there’s not much to say. A particular line reminded me of the television show LOST, and there’s lots of description about the Hawaiian island setting.
by Ron Goulart
This is supposed to be a funny story about a husband/wife detective team who’s investigating a missing FDA agent and figuring out what’s causing the Mad Dog disease plague. Unfortunately, even knowing it was humor, the cheese was so think it was hard to enjoy. These characters have made appearances in novels from the 70s and 80s, so maybe people familiar with said characters will enjoy the style and the style far more than me. But I know I was bored, and despite the intended humor, the info-dumping and telling and implausibility of these two detectives knowing EVERYTHING before they got the case grated on my nerves.
“The Last Ten Years in the Life of Hero Kai”
by Geoff Ryman
This story definitely has a grand sense of mythological wonder about it, but it was not a story that appealed to me. A few bit of modernisms threw me out of the story, and it took me a while to really grasp the rules of the story and what was going on. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it didn’t catch my interest either.
My Rating: No Rating
This issue was a bit of a bomb for me. In truth, I only enjoyed 2/8 stories–Steele’s and Dozois’. Alas. But it was bound to happen, so I’ll just keep reading on.