I like this era of Internet magazine reviews. When I was growing up, back when computers communicated only through punched cards (or with the voice of Majel Barrett), I would read fabulous short story reviews in fanzines and such, and breathlessly race down to my local news stand to buy the magazine in question, only to have the bookseller look at me funny and say, “That issue sold out six months ago, son.”
Not today. Today, booksellers don’t even know what a magazine is. They still look at me funny though, but now it’s because I forgot to change out of pajama pants before leaving the house.
Also, the wonders of the Internet include short story reviews that appear before the magazine even goes on sale, which means me and my pajama pants can wander out to Barnes & Noble on a Saturday morning to pick up a copy of the September/October issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, after reading this terrific Tangent Online review of “The Caravan To Nowhere,” a new Alaric story in the issue by my friend Phyllis Eisenstein:
Her stories have been nominated for Hugos and Nebulas and this reprint from Rogues, a recent anthology edited by Gardner Dozios and George R. R. Martin, shows why… Alaric, a wandering minstrel and recurring character in Eisenstein’s larger universe, joins a merchant on his journey to harvest a mysterious drug, Powder. The drug has made the merchant’s son an addict and part of Alaric’s job is looking out for the young man, who tends to wander and rant.
The son, Rudd, believes he can get to a city that will grant him his heart’s desire and the mystery at the crux of the story is whether there is such a city or not. While we wait for the mystery to play out, there are evocative scenes of traveling through the desert, intrigue between the merchant and his workers, and the opportunity for Alaric to display his ability to blink through space. The end of the story promises a continuation of Alaric’s wanderings and I predict readers will eagerly await the next adventure and hope the publishers of this world put it in our way.
Read Martha Burns’s complete Tangent review here.
And here’s the complete Table of Contents:
- “The Rider” – Jérôme Cigut
- “The Caravan to Nowhere” – Phyllis Eisenstein
- “The Wild Ones” – Albert E. Cowdrey
- “Avianca’s Bezel” – Matthew Hughes
- “The Thing in the Back Yard” – David Gerrold
- “Marketing Strategies of the Apocalypse” – Oliver Buckram
- “Sir Pagan’s Gift” – Tom Underberg
- “Other People’s Things” – Jay O’Connell
- “The Culvert” – Dale Bailey
- “Embrace of the Planets” – Brenda Carre
- “Will He?” – Robert Reed
- “The Way We Are” – Ray Vukcevich
Departments this issue include book reviews by Charles de Lint and Elizabeth Hand, Science column “The Hole in Reality” by Pat Murphy & Paul Doherty, film reviews from David J. Skal, cartoons by Arthur Masear, Danny Shanahan, and Bill Long, and a Curiosities entry by Graham Andrews. The cover is by Bryn Barnard for “Avianca’s Bezel.”
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is published by Gordon van Gelder. The cover price is $7.99 for a thick 258 pages. Check out the complete TOC and additional free content at the F&SF website.
We last covered F&SF here with the July/August issue.