Fantasy & Science Fiction

August 2006

Cover image

Editor: Gordon van Gelder
Issue: Volume 111, No. 2
ISSN: 1095-8258
Pages: 162

This was a disappointing issue when it came to the non-fiction, with only a very short book review column by Charles de Lint and no second review. The "Plumage from Pegasus" from Paul Di Filippo was diverting, though, and while I didn't agree with Lucius Shephard's take on V for Vendetta, the movie, it was well-thought-out and made some good points. The fiction selection was fairly average.

"Penultima Thule" by Chris Willrich: Two adventurers take an evil magic book to the end of the world to get rid of it, and in the process face the emptiness that lies there and hungers. A passable adventure story with decent characterization. (6)

"Another Word for Map is Faith" by Christopher Rowe: A nicely pointed parody of religious fundamentalism in the form of religious geographers, searching out error based on their maps. The maps, after all, are the divine word of God. This is a nasty little parody that doubtless won't convince anyone, but which is satisfying reading if you already think the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy is scary. (7)

"Pleased to Meetcha" by Ken Altabef: The story of a struggling writer who gets to meet one of his idols, a fantastically successful author. This is the sort of short story that exists only to set up a nice twist ending that I only saw a page or two in advance. Good for a chuckle but likely to be forgotten afterwards. (6)

"Immortal Forms" by Albert E. Cowdrey: Cowdrey provides another fantasy story of old buildings and ghosts along the lines of much of his work. I liked the characterization and the vengeance story, and the behavior of the ghost puts a bit of a twist on the stock vengeance behavior. Not horribly original, but well-written and fun. (6)

"Jack B. Goode and the Neo-Modern Prometheus" by Robert Loy: Goode is a private investigator who gets involved in the world of fairy tales but plays them perfectly straight, leaving the audience to realize what's actually happening. In this story, he's kidnapped by Frankenstein to provide a new brain for one of his monsters. Lots of puns and the clash of genres are the feature here, although for me it never rose above a mild smile and felt occasionally forced. (5)

"Misjudgement Day" by Robert Reed: I can see the idea of a plague of misjudgement, and the initial character setup, but the two never came together for me in much of a story. One figures out what's going on, the obvious observation is made about the main character, and the story ends. This one needed something more. (5)

"Billy and the Spacemen" by Terry Bisson: The worst of the Billy stories so far. Nothing much happens, the story misses the normal tension between Billy's perceptions and those of his parents, and the spacemen are just annoying. (4)

"Okanoggan Falls" by Carolyn Ives Gilman: A rather unique story of an alien invasion. Well, the invasion has already happened, some time ago, but the aliens have decided to force all the people in several towns to leave. The mayor of one of the towns and his wife try to get to know the alien general, resulting in some very unexpected cultural exchange. A rather unusual variation on a first-contact story. I'm not sure the ending was strong enough, but I liked the lack of unrealistic dramatics. (6)

Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed: 2006-10-31

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