Fantasy & Science Fiction

December 2004

Cover image

Editor: Gordon van Gelder
Issue: Volume 107, No. 6
ISSN: 1095-8258
Pages: 162

This is the first issue of my new subscription to F&SF. I've read it before (my father had a subscription for twelve months a couple of decades ago), but not for many years. Since everyone reads Analog and I've heard good things about F&SF, and since Charles de Lint writes the book reviews, I figured I'd give it a shot.

This first issue, though, wasn't particularly exciting. The book reviews weren't particularly great, and none of the stories did much for me. The movie review by Lucius Shepard was great, though.

"Fog" by Jack Cody: A story about the evil of people and how it lingers and is reflected in the spirit world, set in a small town on the river. I don't think I ever got this one, since I found it utterly forgettable and rather pointless. (3)

"Virgin Wings" by Sydney J. Van Scyoc: I liked the setup of this story quite a bit, and was getting quite interested in the world, and then it ended. Without a particularly satisfying ending either. Still, one of the better stories of this issue. (6)

"The Bad Hamburger" by Matthew Jarpe and Jonathan Andrew Sheen: A police procedural of sorts about the murder of an AI. The story doesn't take itself at all seriously, aiming for a cross between a hard-bitten detective story and poking fun of geeks. Neither worked all that well for me. The story itself was interesting enough, although rather straightforward, particularly in the ending. (5)

"The Name of the Sphinx" by Albert E. Cowdrey: A puzzle about the meaning of magical signs, with an unusual narrative voice. The story is written in the first person as a letter from the viewpoint character to another character in the story, a device that worked rather well for me. That was probably the best part of the story; it was otherwise entertaining but not great. (6)

"Walter and the Wonderful Watch" by John Morressy: Pure children's fairy tale, complete with overdrawn and fanciful characters. The word play makes it occasionally enjoyable, and it doesn't overstay its welcome. (6)

"Christmas in the Catskills" by Michael Libling: A horror story about a very different way of observing the Christmas holiday. It was fairly obvious starting out both what the threat was and what the ending was likely to be, and while there were hints that the main female character would be a surprise, the story ended up going right down the predictable path. Horror isn't really my thing, but regardless this one didn't seem to have enough to it. (4)

Rating: 5 out of 10

Reviewed: 2004-12-05

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