I’m on a bit of a reading binge this weekend, and I’m catching up on my Fantasy and Science Fiction back issues. I want to start blogging about some of the stories I read there because that way I can look back at some of my notes here and remember some of what I’ve read. These are my notes/review for Fantasy and Science Fiction December 2008:
“A Foreign Country” by Wayne Wightman
“A Foreign Country” by Wayne Wightman is probably my 2nd favorite story from this issue. It’s about a self-described not-too-bright reporter who covers a third-party candidate for President who miraculously wins the election. His solutions to the country’s problems are unorthodox in a fantastic way, and the characterization of both the main character is handled deftly. “A Foreign Country” is a short story worth re-reading.
“Leave” by Robert Reed
I’m sure that I’m not alone in my admiration of Robert Reed’s short fiction. Every story I read in F&SF by Reed is excellent, and “Leave” is no exception. It’s about a young man at some point in the near future who has decided to leave Earth to fight in an alien war for 30 years. Or, more accurately, it’s about the people he leaves behind and how they cope with his decision. Top notch stuff.
“A Skeptical Spirit” by Albert E. Cowdrey
“A Skeptical Spirit” by Albert E. Cowdrey is a twist on the traditional ghost story. It’s a cute enough story, but it’s mostly just a fluff piece. I thought it was one of the weaker stories in this issue.
“How the Day Runs Down” by John Langan
“How the Day Runs Down” by John Langan was my favorite story of the issue. It’s a post-apocalyptic zombie story told as a one-act play of sorts, and the stage manager is more than just a stage manager. It’s a haunting, lyrical tale with a final sentence that was thought-provoking. This is a story that will stick with you.
This story was also featured in an anthology called The Living Dead, and you can read an excerpt from it here: “How the Day Runs Down” by John Langan – Excerpt.
“Falling Angel” by Eugene Mirabelli
“Falling Angel” by Eugene Mirabelli is what I understand to be an excerpt from a longer work, and it doesn’t make much sense as a short story. I’m not a reader who needs EVERYTHING made clear to me, but I do like for SOME things to be clear. So much is untold in this story that it’s hard to care about anything that happens. And honestly, other than an angel falling from the sky and having sex with the guy who finds her, not much does happen. I enjoyed the eroticism of the story, but I wished it had more of a plot. (“Falling Angel” intrigued me enough that I’ll probably look for some of Mirabelli’s novels though.)
“The Alarming Letters from Scottsdale” by Warner Law
“The Alarming Letters from Scottsdale, like “A Skeptical Spirit”, is a trifle of a story. I won’t spoil any of the plot here, but it reminded me of some of the older pulp fiction I’ve read. Had it not been for the fantasy element, it would have been a good fit for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine or for Alfred Hitchock’s Mystery Magazine. The story is a reprint from the early 1970′s.
I’ll refrain from reviewing the nonfiction columns like Gordon Van Gedder’s editorial or Lucius Shepard’s film reviews. Suffice it to say that the nonfiction content of every issue of F&SF that I’ve read have been exceptional and well worth reading.