Fantasy & Science Fiction

August 2005

Cover image

Editor: Gordon van Gelder
Issue: Volume 109, No. 2
ISSN: 1095-8258
Pages: 162

This was a surprisingly good issue all around, with one excellent story (the cover story, "Maze of Trees" by Claudia O'Keefe). Decidedly above average. Elizabeth Hand also does an excellent job reviewing John Crowley's new Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land in depth. I like to see that sort of attention paid to a significant new novel. (Unfortunately, too often it seems to be devoted to interesting but not as significant non-fiction works about SF, although usually not by Hand.)

"Thwarting Jabbi Gloond" by Matthew Hughes: I generally like Hughes's Henghis Hapthorn stories, but this one was a bit of a letdown, perhaps because it's set early in his career before he acquired a discriminator. There's no sign of his demonic ally yet, either. Otherwise, it's an interesting enough minor detective puzzle; the ending wasn't a huge surprise, but I have no major complaints. (6)

"Maze of Trees" by Claudia O'Keefe: This is the highlight of the issue. O'Keefe tells a beautifully tragic story about wild places, the intrusion of human development, and being trapped into a metaphysical role. She shows both the glories and the isolation of being a goddess of wild places, mixing in a sweet and sad love story. I like the short fiction format for melancholy stories and this is one of the better ones I've read lately. (8)

"Gypsy Tail Wind" by Mary Rosenblum: This was a nice, if simple, space opera story about telepathic aliens (well, divergent humans in theory, but rather alien humans). Nothing particularly notable, but the emotions of telepathy were handled well, there were some nice descriptions of telepathic names, and the heroine was likable. This is apparently a spinoff in the universe of Eternity Shift, a new novel that Rosenblum is working on. (7)

"Refried Clichés: A Five-Course Meal" by Mike Shultz: Pretty much exactly what the title says. Shultz takes six cliched SF scenarios (genie in a lamp, a shaggy god story, time travel to ancient primitives, a goblin confrontation, a female James Bond, and a succubus), presumably adding a bonus after the meal, and takes them in an unexpected direction. Each is very short and they're mostly quite good, although a couple of them fell flat for me. (7)

"A Very Little Madness Goes a Long Way" by M. Rickert: A rather strange story about a seriously depressed woman who has lost her child and who is not at all what she appears to be, or what she tries to believe she is. When she's attacked by the crows she blames for the death of her daughter, eerie things start happening, severely damaging what's left of her family and friends. The concept is haunting, although the story never reached an adequate conclusion for me. (6)

"Spell" by Bruce McAllister: This starts as apparently a story about a child with hidden value being pursued by dark powers and kept safe by the power of her grandmother's spells, something he only slightly understands. It ends up being a story about family love and jealousy, and the transition between the two struck me as abrupt and not well-supported by the rest of the story. I also didn't buy the apparent moral of the ending. (5)

"Pure Vision" by Robert Reed: An amusing story about glasses that let one see the souls of others. The gimmick itself is mildly neat, but the strength of the story is in the practical and not particularly ethical protagonist. (6)

"The Woman in Schrödinger's Wave Equations" by Eugene Mirabelli: The speculative part of this story concerns the connection between science, mathematics, beauty, and love, but this is really a love story, and a story about the energy and perspective one can get from love. The speculation is an interesting thought experiment, but the strength of the story are the main characters. All three are quirky and well-drawn, particularly the two women, and the result is nicely sweet without feeling saccharine. (7)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed: 2005-11-24

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