Fantasy & Science Fiction

February 2005

Cover image

Editor: Gordon van Gelder
Issue: Volume 108, No. 2
ISSN: 1095-8258
Pages: 162

One can tell from the gap in magazine reviews that I've not been doing as much treadmill exercising, but I finally finished this F&SF that I started months ago.

This was a real mixed bag, with some decent stories and some truly forgettable junk. I'm increasingly disappointed with Charles de Lint's book reviews. He focuses on young adult books and doesn't seem to cover the books I'm interested in reading about. I also dislike columnists who never give negative reviews; while I can understand the desire to only talk about good books since space is short, it means that I can't get a complete picture of his taste and also means that the reviews never feel balanced to me.

The Paul di Filippo bit in this issue was amusing, if stupid.

"Inner Huff" by Matthew Hughes: I like the idea of the noösphere, the technologically reachable world in which all the archetypes of fairy tales and stories take form and live out their simplistic existences. It's a good setting for a story about stories, and an interesting cross between fantasy and science fiction. This story, however, was way too long, involved way too much pointless action, and needed quite a bit more of the science fiction and less of the fantasy. I enjoyed the ending in part because it was reasonably good and in part because I was grateful to finally get to it. (4)

"From Above" by Robert Reed: A rather enjoyable bit of pseudo-science and scientific ego. There was a bit too much setup for not enough payoff, but what little payoff there was surprised me and intrigued me. A solid idea story, and I'd like to have seen about ten more pages in the world shown at the end of the story. (7)

"Queen of the Balts" by R. Garcia y Robertson: The noble forest folk of Estonia mill about aimlessly while their queen defends them from a thoroughly dislikable collection of mercenaries and religious crusaders, primarily by sleeping with them. Many jokes about marriage infidelity are made in the process, and they all live happily ever after. Now you don't have to actually read the story. The only thing that makes this story in any way memorable is that Estonia gets some fictional love. Maybe next story Robertson could also include something in here that feels, I dunno, notably Estonian. Or at least notable. (5)

"Proboscis" by Laird Barron: There are some obnoxious hicks, random people I don't care about on cell phones, some sort of plot twist halfway through that the protagonist understood immediately and that made no sense to me, and some sort of vague lurking menace that apparently had better things to do than actually show up in the story. I want a refund on the time I wasted reading this. (2)

"Dutch" by Richard Mueller: The are only minimal fantasy elements in this feel-good story of kind-hearted tramps and lost love. The resolution is far too easy and pat, but this story has a good heart. It's a readable and enjoyable bit of fluff; it's hard to hold too much against it. (6)

Rating: 5 out of 10

Reviewed: 2005-07-06

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