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NOVELLAS "Jewel of the Heart" - Matthew Hughes NOVELETS "Widdam" - Vandana Singh "Galatea in Utopia" - Nick Wolven "The Donner Party" - Dale Bailey SHORT STORIES "Aurelia" - Lisa Mason "Neanderthals" - Gardner Dozois "A List of Forty-Nine Lies" - Steven Fisher "An Equation of State" - Robert Reed "The Equationist" - J. D. Moyer "A Feather in Her Cap" - Mary Robinette Kowal "Plumage fro NOVELLAS "Jewel of the Heart" - Matthew Hughes NOVELETS "Widdam" - Vandana Singh "Galatea in Utopia" - Nick Wolven "The Donner Party" - Dale Bailey SHORT STORIES "Aurelia" - Lisa Mason "Neanderthals" - Gardner Dozois "A List of Forty-Nine Lies" - Steven Fisher "An Equation of State" - Robert Reed "The Equationist" - J. D. Moyer "A Feather in Her Cap" - Mary Robinette Kowal "Plumage from Pegasus: Toy Sorry" - Paul Di Filippo POEMS "This Way" - Neal Wilgus "Dear Creator" - Mary Soon Lee


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NOVELLAS "Jewel of the Heart" - Matthew Hughes NOVELETS "Widdam" - Vandana Singh "Galatea in Utopia" - Nick Wolven "The Donner Party" - Dale Bailey SHORT STORIES "Aurelia" - Lisa Mason "Neanderthals" - Gardner Dozois "A List of Forty-Nine Lies" - Steven Fisher "An Equation of State" - Robert Reed "The Equationist" - J. D. Moyer "A Feather in Her Cap" - Mary Robinette Kowal "Plumage fro NOVELLAS "Jewel of the Heart" - Matthew Hughes NOVELETS "Widdam" - Vandana Singh "Galatea in Utopia" - Nick Wolven "The Donner Party" - Dale Bailey SHORT STORIES "Aurelia" - Lisa Mason "Neanderthals" - Gardner Dozois "A List of Forty-Nine Lies" - Steven Fisher "An Equation of State" - Robert Reed "The Equationist" - J. D. Moyer "A Feather in Her Cap" - Mary Robinette Kowal "Plumage from Pegasus: Toy Sorry" - Paul Di Filippo POEMS "This Way" - Neal Wilgus "Dear Creator" - Mary Soon Lee

30 review for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2018

  1. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    I like to buy this magazine if it offers two or three authors I just have to read, as does this issue. The authors that fit that bill this issue are: Matthew Hughes Dale Bailey Gardner Dozois Robert Reed It usually takes a certain amount of synchronicity in order for me to acquire one of these magazines. The only retail outlet near me that regularly sells genre magazines is the local Barnes and Nobel, and that site only carries two copies. What that means is I have to be in the store near the day the I like to buy this magazine if it offers two or three authors I just have to read, as does this issue. The authors that fit that bill this issue are: Matthew Hughes Dale Bailey Gardner Dozois Robert Reed It usually takes a certain amount of synchronicity in order for me to acquire one of these magazines. The only retail outlet near me that regularly sells genre magazines is the local Barnes and Nobel, and that site only carries two copies. What that means is I have to be in the store near the day their shipment arrives and there needs to be authors I want to read in that particular issue. Let’s face it the price of this magazine is now nine bucks and with tax it comes to a bit over a ten spot. A yearly subscription is only $36.97, if the postal authorities don’t mangle the pages or avoid mis-delivering the darn thing. I like the book reviews and I tend to read those first. This issue has Charles de Lint and Elizabeth Hand covering that department. Neither could tempt me with any of their offerings. So, for this issue of “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction”, January/February 2018 (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, #735) the only enticement left are the stories. I always enjoy any Matthew Hughes offering and in this case his was the novella – “Jewel of the Heart”. This story alone was what made this issue worthwhile for me. The rest I could have passed on. This is the sixty-ninth year of publication for The Magazine Fantasy & Science Fiction.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    Hooray for another solid issue of F&SF! I didn't feel the need to skip over any stories, but I definitely had some major favorites: the novella "Jewel of the Heart" by Matthew Hughes (I'm really enjoying this series) and the stories "The Equationist" by J. D. Moyer, "A Feather in Her Cap" by Mary Robinette Kowal, and "Plumage from Pegasus: Toy Sorry" by Paul Di Filippo. Plus, a poem by one of my favorites poets, Mary Soon Lee. Hooray for another solid issue of F&SF! I didn't feel the need to skip over any stories, but I definitely had some major favorites: the novella "Jewel of the Heart" by Matthew Hughes (I'm really enjoying this series) and the stories "The Equationist" by J. D. Moyer, "A Feather in Her Cap" by Mary Robinette Kowal, and "Plumage from Pegasus: Toy Sorry" by Paul Di Filippo. Plus, a poem by one of my favorites poets, Mary Soon Lee.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tad Kilgore

    Very fine issue.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Standback

    Alas. I found this a singularly frustrating issue. Rare, for me and F&SF, but I guess it does happen. Most of this issue's tentpoles just really didn't work for me. And among them, most of all: Galatea in Utopia, by Nick Wolven. Rick's new romance turns out to have an ugly side, in a future where people change their sex to and fro across the gender spectrum -- and he falls for the one guy who can't. There's a compelling core here -- about a yearning for authenticity, about incompatibility within a r Alas. I found this a singularly frustrating issue. Rare, for me and F&SF, but I guess it does happen. Most of this issue's tentpoles just really didn't work for me. And among them, most of all: Galatea in Utopia, by Nick Wolven. Rick's new romance turns out to have an ugly side, in a future where people change their sex to and fro across the gender spectrum -- and he falls for the one guy who can't. There's a compelling core here -- about a yearning for authenticity, about incompatibility within a relationship, and their attendant power plays. But in this story, that's coupled with a deeply weird approach to gender, sex, and sexual relationships. I raised an eyebrow at the story's transformation being measured in percentages -- "60% XY", "75% XX." OK, interesting, and it's certainly nice to see nonbinary sex taken as a norm. But also. Ummm. Nonbinary sex as, like, a precise weighted average between "male" and "female"? Where a few percentage points this way or that are, apparently, a really big deal? I decide it's an eighty percent kind of night. (...) I punch in the settings, climb into my chamber.  Ten seconds before start-up, I get that fluttery feeling. Why not go all the way to ninety-five? Ninety-nine? One-hundred percent. I shout the number just before the flash. Hold on, kids. We're in for a change.The other weird thing is what those percentage points are significant for. The answer is very, very clear: the higher your percentage, the more you are drop-dead SEXY. It's been so long since I took myself to the end of the spectrum. I do a full range of Degas poses, just to take it all in. Hips? Check. Lips? Yes. Tits? You bet. (...) Here I am, one hundred percent XX, heels up to here and woman-parts like nobody's business, and the whole point of looking this way is to be the brashest eye-magnet in the house.The constant references to how very, very sexy Rick is, because he is not 95%, nor 99%, but 100% percent female, get old really fast, and have stuck in my craw ever since. It's just a world of nope. I mean, we have a world here which suffers from no shortage of people who are "100% XX", and yet somehow are not ultra-femme Cosmo-bodied sex goddesses. Holy hell. And anybody writing a story about fluid, transitional, or nonbinary sex, should know a hell of a lot better than to crow about how being "100%" is the sexy, sexy ideal. There are a dozen other attendant issues, some of which I kind of glossed over as I was first reading the story, but the moment I actually start thinking about it, make my brain itch so bad. Everything from (view spoiler)[why does Allen even care whether Rick's 100% female, or only 80-90%? What does that mean (hide spoiler)] , through to (view spoiler)[If Rick suffering so damn much from being female all the time, and Allen says it only matters for him during sex, would it absolutely kill you to not have sex for a week? People have endured greater trials (hide spoiler)] . For me, these issues completely undermine the story's ability to discuss sex or gender. The story's approach to sexual identity is very flashy, but it's so poorly thought-out and so poorly constructed, that actually tackling weighty issues with it is practically insulting. ---- Two other major stories in the issue I found disappointing: Jewel of the Heart, by Matthew Hughes. Another story of Baldemar, the shrewd and sober henchman. This one lands Baldemar in a riddle-quest within a dreamland. While it definitely has its moments, "Jewel of the Heart" mostly feels like a set of arbitrary, meandering challenges. 60 pages is a lot to go through with little guidance more than "I will send you to the place where whatever happens will happen," with the exhortation that Baldemar "trust his instincts" -- a phrase which here means Baldemar getting Strange Feelings throughout, pointing him at some action which is entirely arbitrary, but will advance the plot. I'm very fond of Hughes in general, and of Baldemar in particular, but this piece doesn't make much use of their strengths, in my eyes. Widdam, by Vandana Singh. A mosaic of viewpoints in a future Earth suffering the ecological devestation of climate change.  This one I just didn't connect with. It's a ponderous story, focused on constructing its portrayal of the world, and imagining human environmental destruction as a tangible, sentient being. Important issues all, but I felt the story had very little to say beyond how very, very bad it's going to be. ---- The issue's bright points for me were these two, which I really enjoyed: The Donner Party, by Dale Bailey. Not a story for the squeamish, but deliciously dark. In this story, those at the apex of high society eat human meat -- "ensouled flesh" -- and thus celebrate “the divinely ordained social order.” The horror of the story is far less in the gore of genteel cannibalism itself (although that’s definitely there too). Far more, it’s in the readiness with which Mrs. Breen, and others trying to touch that apex, are willing to accept, pursue and defend the practice — assuming themselves, of course, to be considered among the cannibals, and not the cannibalized. A Feather In Her Cap, by Mary Robinette Kowal. A quick, delightful caper. Biantera was once a gentlewoman, now reduced a humble milliner -- which she'd mind a whole lot less if not for her mother's constant complaints. We immediately discover Biantera wears more than one hat: She made damn good money as an assassin, but if her mother was upset about the supposed millinery business, Biantera could only imagine what she'd have to say about the Other job.The constant juxtaposition between hatmaking and murder makes for great roguish fun, and Biantera's methods are clever and refreshing. ---- The issue's other stories: Aurelia, by Lisa Mason: A horror story with an insect-themed femme fatale. Neanderthals, by Gardner Dozios: A very slight story -- a quick action sequence followed by pontificating about genetic engineering, and how "normal" people might treat the results. A List of Forty-Nine Lies, by Steven Fischer: Clever flash piece, in which the evils of totalitarianism are assiduously disavowed. An Equation of State, by Robert Reed: An alien army sets up camp near a planet full of minor beings of no consequence. Their diplomat, however, has bigger plans for these small people. Reed does something very different here, and I like it. The Equationist, by J.D. Moyer: The main character here "sees" people as mathematical equations, representing both their personalities and their futures. Didn't quite lift off the ground for me -- the view of people as equations never rises, in my eyes, above a pretty simple metaphor for "I get who this person is; they're predictable." This felt more like a math-flavored gloss to me, than actually working like math does. ---- Magazines are a grab bag by nature, but this one had too many pieces I didn't get along with, and not enough that clicked. (Fortunately, speaking as a long time F&SF subscriber, and writing all the way in September, I'm very satisfied this is a one-off occurrence...)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    A few new authors on my list: Vandana Singh writes beautiful poetic prose, with content full of intelligence and storyline full of philosophy and meaning. I have purchased her newest short story collection and will be reading it soon. I enjoy this magazine because it sounds fresh voices, new, unique, uncommercialized, self-expressive voices. Remember, the greats of sci-fi and fantasy we know today once started small too, in this magazine. Lisa Mason wrote a slick story about butterflies, a horror A few new authors on my list: Vandana Singh writes beautiful poetic prose, with content full of intelligence and storyline full of philosophy and meaning. I have purchased her newest short story collection and will be reading it soon. I enjoy this magazine because it sounds fresh voices, new, unique, uncommercialized, self-expressive voices. Remember, the greats of sci-fi and fantasy we know today once started small too, in this magazine. Lisa Mason wrote a slick story about butterflies, a horror twist. I believe she can improve by neglecting to stereotype villains, by finding her own style and voice rather than authors (one in particular stands out, to me) she finds inspiration from. Make the bad guys believable. It sounded like personal venting, and, to be honest, like man-hating, as if the entire story was an attempt to achieve retribution against an ex who hurt her or something. I propose giving the bad guys charisma or charm, or something attractive that will manipulate the readers mind. Make the reader struggle to decide about this person, to judge for themselves. Contrast is a powerful tool in horror. I suggest using more of it. One example I can share from The Lovely Bones. When the young girl was raped and killed. The killer drew a knife, and the knife smiled in a gleam of reflecting light as her blood flowed with a slit throat. This made me sick, and I stopped reading it. It was extremely effective. Throw some good in there with the bad. In my opinion, the most dangerous and terrifying villains are the ones who have power to charm us and gain our trust, because trust is the greatest weapon in the hands of an enemy. But. I enjoyed this. Great, original ideas! Matthew Hughes, another jewel for my collection of modern writers. I’ll be looking for more of his stuff. He created this story that takes place in a simulation of thought, a real mind twister. I loved it. Very creepy, and perhaps a bit Kafkaesque, because dreamlike and uncomfortable, but fun and pleasurable too. I recommend this fantasy writer, great talent. J.D. Moyer: Oh boy, this was my favorite story- “The Equationist.” He uses literary style to express philosophical truth, through the character’s use of mathematics. Niall Skinner is a prodigy and sees mathematical equations in all of life, and figures out mathematical formulas for behavioral prediction, eventually using it to manipulate and change people. The story covers the characters life, and Niall discovers a nihilist-type conclusion in the end. Slick work here! I want more from this guy. I mentioned the above authors because they stood out to me. I criticized one of them, only because I believe they can be better than this, like Morpheus believing Neo is the One. However, I’m just some dude, and this author published in this magazine, a huge achievement, so it’s just advice from a little unknown man, take it or leave it, but my intentions were kind. Peace. I liked every story in here, accept for two. I skipped one for profanity and the other because it was too dark for my taste, but these authors all stand out. Each has a unique voice and they all bring equal pleasure, with an overall feel to the magazine, as a whole; it’s like snuggling with a good book on a Saturday night when all you’re your friends were away, as a child.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kam Yung Soh

    A better than average issue with some fascinating tales by Lisa Mason, Matthew Hughes and J. D. Moyer. Gardner Dozois's story was disappointing because I expected more from the noted former editor of Asimov's Science Fiction. And Dale Bailey's tale of the Victorian Era with a horrifying ritual added was a fascinating read. - "Widdam" by Vandana Singh: a story of a future where climate change is making parts of the planet hard to live. AI powered 'beasts' roam about digging for resources; if they A better than average issue with some fascinating tales by Lisa Mason, Matthew Hughes and J. D. Moyer. Gardner Dozois's story was disappointing because I expected more from the noted former editor of Asimov's Science Fiction. And Dale Bailey's tale of the Victorian Era with a horrifying ritual added was a fascinating read. - "Widdam" by Vandana Singh: a story of a future where climate change is making parts of the planet hard to live. AI powered 'beasts' roam about digging for resources; if they aren't going rogue. The story, which feels like a fragment of a larger one, revolves around a journalist digging into the background of the creator of the AI beasts. - "Aurelia" by Lisa Mason: a tale of a lawyer who becomes attracted to his client who asks him to settle some real-estate matters for her; so attracted that he then marries her. Later on, her strange behaviour begins to bother him; behaviour like not eating for days, then gorging herself, or preventing him from seeing her in her mouldy art room on certain days. And it may be tied to strange murders occurring with the victim's blood totally drained. Yes, it sound like another one of 'those tales' but this one has an interesting and fascinating difference. - "Neanderthals" by Gardner Dozois: a short piece about two warring groups over time control, which has caused Neanderthals to pop up in our time line and one person who wants to get rid of them again. A rather 'run-of-the-mill' story coming from a noted writer of Dozois's calibre. - "Jewel of the Heart" by Matthew Hughes: next in a series of stories on the assistant to a sorcerer. After he collected a powerful helm for the sorcerer (in a previous tale), he is called upon by the helm, who is an intelligent being, for a task: to find a missing part of the helm which hidden away after his creation. The task would require the assistant to call upon all his instincts and wits as he untangles the story he lands in, complete with a giant, murdering beings and a search for a lock and key that all revolves around the number three. Those who are used to playing computer games might recognise a use of that number in relation to computer games. - "A List of Forty-Nine Lies" by Steven Fisher: a short flash fiction in which a saboteur attempts to start a revolution; but only if he can continue to lie to avoid detection. - "An Equation of State" by Robert Reed: alien entities enter the Solar System and prepares for a battle with unstated alien enemies. But when the enemy doesn't appear, an alien diplomat gets permission to explore the Earth to see what humans are capable of. What the diplomat sees during its exploration, and does on Earth would have an effect on the development of humanity and on the fate of the alien entities when they eventually descent on Earth to retrieve him. - "Galatea in Utopia" by Nick Wolven: in a future where body shapes and outward sexual appearance can be changed at will, one 'guy' (XY chromosomes) takes on the appearance of a sexually attractive girl and at a bar bumps into the unexpected: a man who, due to his genetic makeup and allegies, is unable to change his appearance. Sparks fly and they become sexual partners. But then things go sour and unusual when he learns that the unchanging partner has been involved into relationships with other people and not in a good way. - "Plumage from Pegasus: Toy Sorry" by Paul Di Filippo: a fun, short piece about a future when tiny narrators, recreated from the image and personalities of the authors, are created to give life to new multimedia books. But what happens when the narrators are inevitably stored away and forgotten by their readers? - "The Equationist" by J. D. Moyer: a fascinating piece on the life of a man who, from young, sees the lives of the people around his as a series of curves and equations. As he grows up and progresses mathematically, he begins to see more mathematical patterns and attempts to change the lives of the people around him by 'changing' their equations. But in the end, it is only by changing his own equation of life will he find happiness. - "A Feather in Her Cap" by Mary Robinette Kowal: a short, interesting story that a lady who makes hats who moonlights as an assassin in secret. But after her latest kill, she is denied payment by the person who hired her and who also hints that he knows her identity. She plots to get her payment and revenge with the help of a master thief. But the interesting part of the story will turn out to be her motive for being a killer-for-hire. - "The Donner Party" by Dale Bailey: a deliciously horrifying (pun intended) tale set in Victorian times that involves a yearly ritual dinner of human meat. One up-and-rising lady is invited to the dinner and gets accepted into 'higher' society. Then, she makes a terrible social mistake and is made an outcast. When after some struggles she is re-accepted with some backroom negotiations, the price of re-acceptance becomes known, making the reader think about just what people are willing to do for social acceptance.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John Loyd

    6 • Widdam • 33 pages by Vandana Singh Good+. A semi-dystopia where sentient megamachines are sent off to work at their job (e.g. strip mining, drilling, fracking, building skyscrapers...) causing environmental damage, deserts, sea level rise, etc., faster than the Earth can heal itself. Dinesh is a reporter who wants to contact the inventor of AI code that made these machines insatiable. There is a glimmer of hope, as we see one Saur flee from its RigMother and start to work with Val in the New 6 • Widdam • 33 pages by Vandana Singh Good+. A semi-dystopia where sentient megamachines are sent off to work at their job (e.g. strip mining, drilling, fracking, building skyscrapers...) causing environmental damage, deserts, sea level rise, etc., faster than the Earth can heal itself. Dinesh is a reporter who wants to contact the inventor of AI code that made these machines insatiable. There is a glimmer of hope, as we see one Saur flee from its RigMother and start to work with Val in the New Mexico desert. 39 • Aurelia • 22 pages by Lisa Mason Very Good. Robert and Trev are single lawyers. They have many short romances and one-night stands. Aurelia becomes Robert's client. He helps her with her property. Within a few weeks they are married. She has some strange habits and there are times when she needs privacy. Robert loves her, but can control himself, he cheats on her. Aurelia doesn't care, his sex drive is one of the things she loves about him. Robert feels guilty for cheating, but still things are going well until Trev decides to spy on his wife. 61 • Neanderthals • 6 pages by Gardner Dozois OK/Good. A time traveler on a mission to kill a drug lord has to get by two Neanderthal bodyguards. Promising premise, but the parting comment by the Neanderthal is water off a duck's back. 86 • Jewel of the Heart • 59 pages by Matthew Hughes Very Good+. The helm of Sagacity takes Baldemar to the second plane and gives him a test. The helm has a mission for Baldemar. He's not too keen to accept, but does when the helm says he'll save Oldo and his boss. This quest reminded me of Simak. The hero is placed in an unfamiliar setting, usually pastoral, where the rules are vague and with only a general sense of what needs to be accomplished. The clues gathered along the way lead our hero to the resolution. 145 • A List of Forty-Nine Lies • 2 pages by Steven Fischer Good+. Levi had a wife and daughter. Until the totalitarian regime, The New Dawn, used a killing spree to take over everything. Government, media, history. 147 • An Equation of State • 11 pages by Robert Reed Good/OK. A contingent comes to our solar system to build a defense and await the enemy. They build themselves up using dust, comets and whatever material happens to be available, then start on their defense. When the enemy doesn't show a diplomat is sent to Earth. It doesn't interfere, at first it takes the form of a horse as it observes the American civil war, then a rat during the Vietnam(?) war. 158 • Galatea in Utopia • 29 pages by Nick Wolven OK/Good. Future society where body modification, even from male to female or back, takes just hours. Rick meets with some of his friends. I am thinking they are all shallow and superficial. Rick meets Alan and gains a little depth. 199 • The Equationist • 17 pages by J. D. Moyer Good+. Niall always saw people described as equations. His brother a circle, father a square root and mother a sine wave. He studies math. While working in a print shop he nudges the owner into a vacation and it changes his equation. The hardest thing to do is to see his own equation. 216 • A Feather in Her Cap • 12 pages by Mary Robinette Kowal Very Good/Excellent. Biantera makes hats for a living. To get enough money to regain the family estate she has become an assassin. A client has decided not to pay. She could exact revenge, but she would much rather get the money. Exciting and humorous. Really fun to read. 228 • The Donner Party • 28 pages by Dale Bailey Good+. In this Victorian England the rich literally feed on the poor. Once a year the first feast is the most prestigious event in all of London. Alice Breen is surprised and gratified to get an invitation. After the party she and Mrs. Donner visit frequently. The next year rolls around and the Breen's are only invited to the Second Day. Alice is hurt and commits the faux pas of refusing. She is ostracized. She ends up spending most of her days at home, unable to mingle even with old friends. The following year she doesn't really want to come back to the city. With ten pages left I could kind of tell what was going to happen, but Alice's reaction was not anticipated.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Giant, fracking robosaurs who can talk! A neomyth of genderfucking! A decaying woodnymph wife! Victorian cannibals and a covert nod to Se7en! LOVED: Nick Wolven's "Galatea in Utopia" Dale Bailey's "The Donner Party" Steven Fischer's "A List of Forty-Nine Lies" Vandana Singh's "Widdam" J.D. Moyer's "The Equationist" I did not finish the fantasy novella, Jewel of the Heart, as it felt pretty plain and somewhat old-fashioned next to the rest of the issue (in my extremely humble I've-been-reading-genre Giant, fracking robosaurs who can talk! A neomyth of genderfucking! A decaying woodnymph wife! Victorian cannibals and a covert nod to Se7en! LOVED: Nick Wolven's "Galatea in Utopia" Dale Bailey's "The Donner Party" Steven Fischer's "A List of Forty-Nine Lies" Vandana Singh's "Widdam" J.D. Moyer's "The Equationist" I did not finish the fantasy novella, Jewel of the Heart, as it felt pretty plain and somewhat old-fashioned next to the rest of the issue (in my extremely humble I've-been-reading-genre-seriously-less-than-a-year opinion)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leroy Erickson

    A mix of good and bad stories this time. Vandana Singh - Widdam - 3 stars - Multiple semi-related vignettes of the result of global warming. OK, but missing something. Lisa Mason - Aurelia - 4 stars - A horror story, fairly well done. Gardner Dozois - Neanderthals - 3 stars - Re-created neanderthals working as body guards. A so-so story. Matthew Hughes - Jewel of the Heart - 4 stars - Another story of Baldemar, a magician's helper who is so much more than that. Steven Fisher - A List of Forty-Nine Li A mix of good and bad stories this time. Vandana Singh - Widdam - 3 stars - Multiple semi-related vignettes of the result of global warming. OK, but missing something. Lisa Mason - Aurelia - 4 stars - A horror story, fairly well done. Gardner Dozois - Neanderthals - 3 stars - Re-created neanderthals working as body guards. A so-so story. Matthew Hughes - Jewel of the Heart - 4 stars - Another story of Baldemar, a magician's helper who is so much more than that. Steven Fisher - A List of Forty-Nine Lies - 2 stars - Flash fiction. A two page story about a man who tries to deny what he's thinking about in order to prevent his terrorist actions from being detected. Robert Reed - An Equation of State - 3 stars - An alien super soldier assigned to earth to work toward ... ? Nick Wolven - Galatea in Utopia - 5 stars - Very unusual. Trans-sexuality driven to the extreme through gene modification and adaptable body implants? Mary Soon Lee - Dear Creator (poem) - 5+ stars - I normally don't care about the poems, but this one is just neat. J. D. Moyer - The Equationist - 4 stars - A young boy who is a math prodigy decides that every person's life can be matched up with a particular mathematical equation. He proceeds through life using that as his guidline and the results are mixed. Mary Robinette Kowal - A Feather in Her Cap - 4 stars - An assassin hat maker. It works. Dale Bailey - The Donner Party - 4 stars - Recreating Victorian England, with a minor change in the highest society. A very depressing and chilling story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mary Soon Lee

    Once again, F&SF provides a great breadth of well-crafted speculative stories, from dystopic short-short science fiction to a refreshingly original fantasy novella. My favorite this time was the aforementioned dystopic flash fiction, "A List of Forty-Nine Lies," by Steven Fischer, which executed its clever conceit to striking and moving effect. Another favorite was Mary Robinette Kowal's short story, "A Feather in Her Cap," which had a deft, light, likable touch despite its heroine being an assa Once again, F&SF provides a great breadth of well-crafted speculative stories, from dystopic short-short science fiction to a refreshingly original fantasy novella. My favorite this time was the aforementioned dystopic flash fiction, "A List of Forty-Nine Lies," by Steven Fischer, which executed its clever conceit to striking and moving effect. Another favorite was Mary Robinette Kowal's short story, "A Feather in Her Cap," which had a deft, light, likable touch despite its heroine being an assassin; I note that the story had little to no overt fantastical content, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it. I also particularly liked the fantasy novella, "Jewel of the Heart," by Matthew Hughes, as well as Robert Reed's short story, "An Equation of State," which is a nice spin on science fiction tales of alien warfare. Not every piece was to my taste, and indeed I found the last novelet, "The Donner Party," by Dale Bailey, to be unpleasant, but it was still powerful. A fine issue of a very fine magazine.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Renee Babcock

    I was starting to think this was a so-so issue until I read two quite good stories: Galatea in Utopia and The Donner Party. The latter was particularly horrific to read and exceptional. I don't want to say too much about it except even in a story of manners, the underlying horrors can be so dark for the very veneer of gentility on top. I could see where that story was going early on but it didn't make the ending any less difficult to swallow (if one will pardon the pun). I was starting to think this was a so-so issue until I read two quite good stories: Galatea in Utopia and The Donner Party. The latter was particularly horrific to read and exceptional. I don't want to say too much about it except even in a story of manners, the underlying horrors can be so dark for the very veneer of gentility on top. I could see where that story was going early on but it didn't make the ending any less difficult to swallow (if one will pardon the pun).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shona Kinsella

    Another great issue. I particularly enjoyed A List of Forty-Nine Lies and A Feather in her Cap. As someone who listens to Writing Excuses, it was fantastic to get a chance to read about the milliner assassin.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    My faves, in no particular order: Jewel of the Heart The Donner Party Aurelia Neanderthals A List of Forty-Nine Lies The Equationist A Feather in Her Cap "This Way" "Dear Creator" My faves, in no particular order: Jewel of the Heart The Donner Party Aurelia Neanderthals A List of Forty-Nine Lies The Equationist A Feather in Her Cap "This Way" "Dear Creator"

  14. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Hurley

    A lot of fun stories in this one. The Satyr was a legitimately creepy villain and "Down Where Sound Comes Blunt" had a very shocking ending. A lot of fun stories in this one. The Satyr was a legitimately creepy villain and "Down Where Sound Comes Blunt" had a very shocking ending.

  15. 4 out of 5

    J. Allen Nelson

    A great assortment of stories for the first issue of the year. Several resonate with me, especially The Donner Party which sent a chill down my spine not for its outcome, but for the characterization of the main character. Eagerly moving on to the next issue -- trying to catch up with this year's crop of stories!! A great assortment of stories for the first issue of the year. Several resonate with me, especially The Donner Party which sent a chill down my spine not for its outcome, but for the characterization of the main character. Eagerly moving on to the next issue -- trying to catch up with this year's crop of stories!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Replogle

    As always, very good.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nick Nordlinger

    The two best stories in here are "The Equationist" and "The Donner Party." I also loved the poem "This Way." The two best stories in here are "The Equationist" and "The Donner Party." I also loved the poem "This Way."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael Frasca

    Favorite stories: - "Jewel of the Heart" - Matthew Hughes. More Baldemar! Keep them coming Mr. Hughes. - "The Donner Party" - Dale Bailey. A modest proposal. - "The Equationist" - J. D. Moyer. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Favorite stories: - "Jewel of the Heart" - Matthew Hughes. More Baldemar! Keep them coming Mr. Hughes. - "The Donner Party" - Dale Bailey. A modest proposal. - "The Equationist" - J. D. Moyer. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

  19. 5 out of 5

    N.A.K. Baldron

    The Equationist by J.D. Moyer was the highlight of the issue!

  20. 5 out of 5

    B. Barron

    NOVELLAS "Jewel of the Heart" - Matthew Hughes - ** - Meh! NOVELETS "Widdam" - Vandana Singh - **** - Fun story, I really like the Machine Saints. "Galatea in Utopia" - Nick Wolven - ***** - Interesting take on a post/hyper-fluid gender society. I would love to get a take on this from my Transgender and non-traditional friends and fiends. "The Donner Party" - Dale Bailey - **** - An EXCELLENT horror story, though I did see the ending from the beginning. SHORT STORIES "Aurelia" - Lisa Mason - *** - Sol NOVELLAS "Jewel of the Heart" - Matthew Hughes - ** - Meh! NOVELETS "Widdam" - Vandana Singh - **** - Fun story, I really like the Machine Saints. "Galatea in Utopia" - Nick Wolven - ***** - Interesting take on a post/hyper-fluid gender society. I would love to get a take on this from my Transgender and non-traditional friends and fiends. "The Donner Party" - Dale Bailey - **** - An EXCELLENT horror story, though I did see the ending from the beginning. SHORT STORIES "Aurelia" - Lisa Mason - *** - Solid story, if a bit disjointed. "Neanderthals" - Gardner Dozois - **** - I Adore Dozois! Best editor in the Genre, and his loss is our loss. "A List of Forty-Nine Lies" - Steven Fisher - *** - Clever. "An Equation of State" - Robert Reed - *** "The Equationist" - J. D. Moyer - ***** - Really liked this one. "A Feather in Her Cap" - Mary Robinette Kowal - **** - I want more of Biantera! I do have a 'Thing' for kick-ass women (I did marry one after all). "Plumage from Pegasus: Toy Sorry" - Paul Di Filippo - **** POEMS "This Way" - Neal Wilgus - *** - Always, ALWAYS look up! "Dear Creator" - Mary Soon Lee - ***** - ROTFLOL!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mark Catalfano

    I liked "The Donner Party" by Dale Bailey I liked "The Donner Party" by Dale Bailey

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Franklin

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bronwen

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alyx

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joey O'Donnell

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  28. 5 out of 5

    J.D. Moyer

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  30. 5 out of 5

    Frankie

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