Novelets "Hob's Choice" by Tim Sullivan "Tomorrow Is a Lovely Day" by Lisa Mason
Short Stories "The Winter Wraith" by Jeffrey Ford "The Thirteen Mercies" by Maria Dahvana Headley "Her Echo" by K. J. Kabza "The Fabulous Follicle" by Harvey Jacobs "DreamPet" by Bruce McAllister "CleanOut" By Naomi Kritzer "It's All Relative at the Space-Time Café" by Norman Birnbach "The City of Your Soul" by Robert Reed
Former Editor, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Author of The Prodigal Troll, the Traitor to the Crown Series, and Wild Things, plus dozens of short stories. World Fantasy Award Winner, and finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Sidewise, Sturgeon, and Locus Awards. Teacher at Clarion and elsewhere.
7 • The Winter Wraith • 10 pages by Jeffrey Ford Good/fair. Spooky story. A guy living in the boonies is hearing noises, needs to get rid of his dried out Christmas tree. It starts to snow with the wind howling. More noises and a possible intruder.
17 • Hob's Choice • 32 pages by Tim Sullivan Good. Hob travels to Cet four to deliver a message. There is a war going on between the resistance and the Tachtrans Authority. Probably better if I had read the previous two stories.
49 • The Thirteen Mercies • 16 pages by Maria Dahvana Headley Poor. 13 soldiers are tried for war crimes and sent to an isolated rainy place. The talk of mercies and reversed mercies is too subtle for me.
85 • Gypsy • 68 pages by Carter Scholz Good. The Earth is overpopulated, there are wars and other problems. Roger Fry has recruited the people and procured the equipment to make an interstellar voyage. The story was a bit too dismal for me. First starting out with the bleak prospects on Earth and then one problem after another arising on the voyage.
153 • Her Echo • 2 pages by KJ Kabza Good. For how short it was though I'm kind of dubious of the moral.
155 • The Fabulous Follicle • 16 pages by Harvey Jacobs Very Good. A barber wants to go into business for himself, but is finding the start up costs a bit steep. He gets a partner who lines up some werewolves to be his customers.
171 • Dreampet • 7 pages by Bruce McAllister Very Good. Dreampet sells genetically enineered pets. Tom is a VP there and designed the forever kitten. It seems like a utopian world until we examine closer and find the wife has kind of lost interest in him, the teenager is rebelious, and even his 6 now 7 year old girl is growing away from him.
178 • Cleanout • 15 pages by Naomi Kritzer Very Good/good. Their mother has to move to a care facility so the three daughters go to her home to get it ready for eventual sale. They start wondering about their parents' origin.
209 • It's All Relative at the Space Time Cafe • 6 pages by Norman Birnbach OK, humor. My first week at college I picked up the department newsletter and there was a story about the perils of Penelope polynomial. She got Cosh'd on the exponent with a log, and many more math puns. That story brought about many smiles. This one used famous scientists, and only had a couple of smiles.
215 • The City of Your Soul • 17 pages by Robert Reed Good/VG. Before their flight the passengers on a flight to Seattle here of a missing city in Brazil. When they land only they remember the story.
232 • Tomorrow is a Lovely Day • 23 pages by Lisa Mason Very Good/excellent. A Groundhog day type premise. With Benjamin who hopes to be a teacher someday working as a security guard at Time Management Industries. He has several conversations with the head of TMI.
We had four people who had read part of the issue discussing it. People agreed that this was a disappointing and surprisingly depressing issue. The Winter Wraith was very well written but didn't have much happening (it was more an atmosphere piece) and the only fantastical element came at the very end. Hobs Choice about a rebellion on an alien planet was much longer than it needed to be, confusing, and could have been simplified (it didn't need two people from Earth carrying a message). It also introduced elements, such as not trusting the Earthpeople at first, that were never adequately developed. Thirteen Mercies, about revenge/foregiveness was written in a way that distanced the reader from the characters. I liked most of Gypsy about a secret rebellion to launch the first interstellar colony ship from a declining Earth but it continued the issue's set of depressing stories. I sort of liked how each section had a different main character, since only one person could be awake at a time, but thought the ending completely undermined the rest of the story, making the whole voyage pointless. The Fabulous Follicle was fun, about a barber to werewolves, although the last third about business machinations was a bit much. DreamPet, about a designer of domestic pleasure animals who becomes depressed when his children lose interest in his creations was nice, although the last section, where he goes to into the DreamKill Division destroyed the more subtle elements of the first part. Cleanout was an interesting story about three siblings coping with the decline and death of their mother, had a fairly minor and subtle genre element but was very well written and the characters rang true. It's All Relative and the Space -Time Cafe was another humor piece with scientist characters making puns and references to their theories. The City of Your Soul had an interesting concept, people from the same airline flight, remember news about a city disappearing but no one else in the world does. I would have liked an explanation, but the story left things ambiguous. Tomorrow is a Lovely Day was a light story about time travel and hope for the future that some people say was the best in the issue. My favorite was "The City of Your Soul" although I thought it could have been better.
C.C. Finlay is making quite a mark for himself as editor of F&SF. I was sad to see Gordon van Gelder go (though he is still publisher) but at least van Gelder didn't stay too long, like some -- including me -- think Edward L. Ferman did.
I always go for the novellas first. This has one called Gypsy. I can pretty much guarantee that this is one science fiction story you will never, ever forget. That one alone is worth the price of the magazine.
Gypsy is the best story in the book and is probably worth five stars on it's own. But as is often the case with this magazine, there were a few gems fighting for the top spot. My other favorites were The Thirteen Mercies, Her Echo, The Winter Wraith, and The Fabulous Follicle.