- File Size: 817 KB
- Print Length: 311 pages
- Publisher: Spilogale, Inc. (April 30, 2015)
- Publication Date: April 30, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00WZZAYC2
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #736,734 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2015 Kindle Edition
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I usually only get through one of the two long novella/novelettes at the beginning of an issue. Maybe I'm not enough of a hardcore genre reader--in the plethora of Mars colony diaries and fantasy sagas about thieves with names like Raffalon, I sometimes miss real, complex character development. This is an unfair generalization, and I've liked most of the stories well enough to keep reading, but this issue blows them all out of the water. Every story is incredibly strong, challenging, and delightful. As always, the novella at the beginning "What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear" was my least favorite, and it was still great.
Each story afterward is incredible-not only unique worldview and postulates, but gripping plot and fantastic characters:
-A Residence for Friendless Ladies-Creepy atmospheric story about a transgendered man forced to live at his grandmother's upscale home for ladies, where you should never answer the knock on your door after bedtime, and where residents occasionally disappear.
-The Mantis Tattoo-Takes place in the time of creation myth stories, reminds me a bit of Neil Gaiman and Christopher Moore. Cheeky gods wage war through their human devotees.
-Things Worth Knowing-Scary look at the possible future of private education, where corporations own schooling stations, which are little more than standardized testing consoles designed to headhunt promising kids. If two companies want the same kid, things get violent. After all, the government doesn't have much of a say in anything anymore.
La Heron-Fantasy dueling story set in Alexandre Dumas' 18th century France. I usually don't go for the fairy/swordplay/spell fantasies, but this one was cleverly done, a treat to read.
This is the Way the Universe Ends: With a Bang - In the far far future, the characters of this story are complex sentient entities, more substructure than biology. The universe is coming to an end, but some of them want to hasten it and prevent the other entities from being reborn into the next one. Very quantum, but not hard to follow. Reminded me of Madeleine L'Engle.
Last Transaction is told entirely through the program logs of the futuristic internet of things, and through user commands. AND, it's exciting and fast-paced. Author Nik Constantine pulled off a huge feat in this one.
Little Girls in Bone Museums is disturbing in all the right ways. Grotesque and beautiful tale of human dolls made by tying flexible girls' limbs into fantastic contortions, and letting them sit until the girls' muscles atrophy and freeze them in place.
A Small Diversion on the Road to Hell-The narrator is hilariously obtuse in this time travel story.
How to Masquerade as a Human Before the Invasion: Sharp little piece about loneliness couched in the conceit of an instructional pamphlet for aliens wanting to act like humans.
A User's Guide to Increments of Time: A lover's spat turns nasty when both lovers are capable of stealing time. Not one of my favorites in the issue, but very lovely.
Bilingual-A teenaged activist learns to communicate with dolphins well enough to record their language and piece together an audio warning to be posted in the ocean so that dolphins will keep away from the notorious Cove, the Taiji killing grounds. This story is genius. Not only is it grounded in our scientific knowledge about dolphin communication, but it's a great idea, and, by the way, is story is told entirely in tweets. Amazing way to end an amazing issue.
Any issue of a magazine is naturally a grab-bag, and some stories are better than others, and every reader will have his own favorites. But this issue has a rare confluence of fantastic stories, of all kinds of different types, which will delight lovers of excellent short fiction - particularly those who delight in variety.
The jewel in the crown is "What Has Passed Shall In Kinder Light Appear," by Bao Shu (translated by Ken Liu); one of my favorite stories I've read all year. It has a brilliant speculative premise -- a twist on alternate-history that I won't spoil here, because it's fresh and original and it creeps up on you gradually. And that premise is married to a touching personal story of love and loss, a tour through the the history of China and the world entire, and a powerful theme about the narratives we construct around our lives. A stunning story.
But the issue has many other excellent pieces, including:
"La Héron," by Charlotte Ashley - A fantasy adventure story, where a mysterious warrior faces a tournament of duels against tricksy fairy knights.
"This Is the Way the Universe Ends: with a Bang," by Brian Dolton - At the end of time, the universe's few remaining residents are a motley assortment of bizarre super-intelligent beings - each with its own nature, and each with its own approach to the impending heat-death of the universe. Some of those approaches are more amiable than others. A story that manages to be both bizarre, and very fun.
"Little Girls In Bone Museums," by Sadie Bruce - A story of dark beauty and the capacity for mutilation, reminiscent of Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Fluted Girl."
"How to Masquerade as a Human Before the Invasion," by Jenn Reese - A sardonic little two-page piece that does just what it says on the tin.
"A Residence for Friendless Ladies," by Alice Sola Kim - A lovely story that manages to be melancholy and sassy at the same time. It's a story of being boxed away where you don't belong, and how doing that creates places nobody could belong to at all.
This also happens to be the issue where Gordon Van Gelder passes the editorial torch to Charles Coleman Finlay, so along with all the other great stuff, you get a couple of great essays celebrating the magazine and all stands for. Truly, an excellent issue to get your hands on.