F&SF OCT./NOV. 2007
I took a few days out of my book reading to tackle the annual double issue of F&SF. Here's what I thought...
The issue starts of with a story from Robert Silverberg, "Against the Current." It's getting rare these days to see a new Silverberg story and I'm happy to see one, as he was a regular presence when I first started reading SF mags on a regular basis. In this one, Phil Rackman starts moving through time backwards and is able to interact with his past for a bit before heading off on a big adventure. Solid stuff.
Fred Chappell's "The Diamond Shadow" is a fantasy tale set in a world where shadows can be stolen and used by other people for various purposes. Here, Astolfo and Falco uncover the secrets of a diamond in order to help a Countess who is also a triple figure (child, adult, and crone in one). Again, solid stuff.
"The Star to Every Wandering Barque" by James Stoddard is a hopeful tale about what would happen if human beings suddenly realized how precious and beautiful life is and how stupid and mean we've all been to each other. No more wars, ending hunger, and space exploration picks up again. If only...
Albert E. Cowdrey gives us a Katrina ghost story in "The Recreation Room." To be honest, I wasn't quite expecting the ending and don't think the story really gave enough clues to get us to that point. On the other hand, Cowdrey is always readable, so I'm not upset that I read it. I liked it well enough until I got to the end. Happens.
I did not finish Judith Moffett's "The Bird Shaman's Girl" - she lost me early on with the varying religions of the world and an odd film project. Only the second story in F&SF this year that I haven't finished.
M. Ramsey Chapman makes a writing debut with "Two Weeks After," a very human ghost story that makes a lot of sense and has a great ending. Looking forward to more stories from Chapman...
"Fragrant Goddess" by Paul Park deals with alchemical secrets and an old house and an old relationship and doesn't quite hold together, though it is definitely interesting along the way.
My favorite story was "Unpossible" by Daryl Gregory, a look at what happens to children able to travel to magical lands once they grow up. Smart and fun and sad all at the same time. The story notes mention Gregory is putting out a novel next year and I plan on reading it - he's a writer worth watching.
I also loved Michael Swanwick's "Urdumheim." How could I not? First, it's written by Swanwick, one of the best writers out there. Second, it's a creation myth full of humor and despair and words and heroes, big and small. Villains too. Excellent stuff.
In addition, there are the usual books and film columns as well as a "Plumage From Pegasus" from the always dependable Paul Di Filippo. It's another solid issue with great work from Gregory, Swanwick, and Chapman.