Sunday, November 09, 2008

F&SF SEPT. 2008

I'm still pretty well behind on reading my SF magazines but I just read the Sept. issue of F&SF in a couple days. Of course, it helps when the stories are good enough to make you want to read.

The lead story is the title track from Paolo Bacigalupi's story collection, Pump Six and Other Stories. His work has been prominently featured in F&SF over the last few years, so it makes sense that they would reprint a new story here. Bacigalupi usually writes about grim futures and "Pump Six" is no exception. He also writes very well about those grim futures and again, "Pump Six" is no exception. This is a future when intelligence is not at a premium in society, where there are trogs who just have sex all day, where drug use is an accepted part of culture, and where all the machines that keep things running (like sewage) and getting old and breaking down. The story does end on a bit of hope, however.

After the two books columns comes "Search Continues for Elderly Man" by Laura Kasischke. I didn't care for it. I got what she was going for but I didn't feel like there was anything to hold onto in the story.

Fortunately, Carolyn Ives Gilman's novella, "Arkfall" was up next. It takes place on a planet where the (human)population lives underwater and lives either in "arks" or in an overcrowded dome. Society has evolved into one of passive-agression and is relatively stagnant. Osaji wants to break from from that stagnation but is also caring for her aged grandmother and feels trapped. She literally becomes trapped in an ark with an off-worlder and they end up exlporing a lot of the planet after a volcanic eruption. The relationships and the adventure are well done and make a nice complement to the other. I liked it.

Rand B. Lee's "Picnic on Pentecost" was an okay tale of big changes for the human race out in the stars and "'Shed That Guilt! Double Your Productivity'" by Michael Swanwick and Eileen Gunn was a fun little story about an unusual service for writers.

A quick count shows that Robert Reed's "Salad for Two" is the sixth story I've read by him this year. I wouldn't say it's my favorite of his but even his lesser stories are well worth reading.

Finally, Jim Aikin's "Run! Run!"was a solid capper to the issue. It's an alternate world where the United States becomes fully Christian and unicorns exist. A woman reflects on events from when she younger and she ended up saving the unicorns that lives on her farm (and were hidden from everyone else until her sister told people).

In the end, another good issue of F&SF and I continue to think it is the best SF magazine available. I have already started on the Sept. issue of Asimov's, so you can look for a rundown of that later this week.

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