There’s plenty to like in the latest issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction — including a new Alaric story by Phyllis Eisenstein, and short stories by Dominica Phetteplace, Bruce McAllister, and others. Tangent Online‘s Nicky Magas has particular praise for two of its longest tales, including a new novella by Lavie Tidhar, in his online review.
Gunther Sloam is a romantic in a world with no more heart for romance in Lavie Tidhar’s alternate history, “The Vanishing Kind.” When he receives a desperate message from Ulla, an old fling, that reminds him of the old sort of films that he himself used to write, Gunther travels to a post World War II ravaged London in which the Nazi’s have won, thinking of nothing more than rekindling an old flame. But when he arrives he finds Ulla conspicuously vanished, the Gestapo nipping at his heels, and a mysterious dwarf pulling an unknown number of strings from the sidelines. Gunther is far from the lead in a romantic motion picture and reality is a lot colder and meaner than he is prepared to accept.
“The Vanishing Kind” is an interesting mix of noir and alternate history. True to the noir genre, none of the characters are who they appear to be, and the mystery keeps spiraling deeper into the hole and all the while the reader is begging Gunther to just get on the transport and go home. But of course he must uncover each intricately connected layer of his missing paramour and the readers follow his every footstep with nail-biting anticipation.
Here he is on David Gerrold’s novelette “The Thing on the Shelf,” which features a horror writer who’s been nominated for the coveted Stoker Award.
Some things are better left alone. In “The Thing on the Shelf” by David Gerrold, that thing is a Stoker Award. To anyone outside of the horror community, the award is an honor, a mark of prestige. But for those who live and breathe horror, the Stoker — the creepy little stylized haunted mansion with its open and closed door — represents something else. It’s a heavy cross to bear, but someone must do it to keep that distinctly horrific, ominous presence from accumulating in too great an amount in one place.
“The Thing on the Shelf” is a long piece, filed with tangents, and tangents within tangents, and a Lovecraftian antagonist that is never fully explained or revealed. The protagonist is the author himself relaying the events of the horror convention, his subsequent win of the award, and the strange events that occur afterward. The story thus has one foot in reality and one foot outside of it. It is difficult to wade through all the ramblings that seem to have no connection to the heart of the story, but in the end the author assures readers that they all share a connection — if readers are able to find it.
The cover is by Mondolithic Studios (who also did the cover for Black Gate 8) for “Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful.”
Here’s the complete Table of Contents.
- “The Vanishing Kind ” – Lavie Tidhar
- “The Desert of Vanished Dreams” – Phyllis Eisenstein
- “Vishnu Summer” – David Prill
- “The Thing on the Shelf” – David Gerrold
- “Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful” – Gregor Hartmann
- “Spells Are Easy if You Have The Right Psychic Energy” – Dominica Phetteplace
- “An Open Letter to the Person Who Took My Smoothie from the Break Room Fridge” – Oliver Buckram
- “Last One Out” – K.B. Rylander
- “Killer” – Bruce McAllister
- “Jesus Has Forgiven Me. Why Can’t You?” – Betsy Phillips
- Books To Look For – Charles de Lint
- Books – James Sallis
- Films: Bunker Mentality – Kathi Maio
- Science: Our Super Cool Solar System by Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty
- Plumage from Pegasus by Paul Di Filippo
- Coming Attractions
- Curiosities – Robert Eldridge
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is edited by C.C. Finlay, and 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.
This issue is on sale until September 5. We last covered F&SF with the May/June issue.