Tuesday, January 14, 2003

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for January 2003

My subscription is up for renewal, and up until I read this issue I was planning to let it lapse. Now I'm not sure. In general F&SF prints too much conventional stuff for my taste, but once in a while there's a particularly strong issue. I may have to re-up after all.

M. Shayne Bell's "Anomalous Structures of My Dreams" is a wonderful story about AIDS, nanotech, and loneliness. I hesitate to say much about it, because I think it should be read to be appreciated. Some of the images in this story are achingly beautiful, and it deserves awards. I do not say this lightly.

"The Machine" by M. Rickert is another great story, though not quite as strong as M. Shayne Bell's offering. A recounting of one of the myths of the nightingale's origin, it is beautifully embellished, though the directness of the author's voice in the concluding paragraphs is a bit jarring.

Jeremy Minton's "Halfway House" is a well-crafted but somehow unconvincing tale of aliens intervening in the slow death of the Earth--intervening not to save the planet, but to save some of the people, if they can design a creature which will survive on another world selected by the aliens. The human intermediary who inspects the creature designs has a strange love affair with one of the applicants. The ending is powerful, but would be more so if the love affair were more convincing. An interesting story, nonetheless.


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