Steve Fahnestalk has been adding magazines to his review column at Amazing Stories, which I greatly appreciate. He’s an astute reader and a fine writer, and he has a talent for piquing your interest without giving away too much of the tale. Here he is on the sole novella in the January/February issue of F&SF.
In “Homecoming,” Rachel Pollack brings us her fourth, and longest, Jack Shade story in F&SF — the previous ones were published in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Jack Shade is a private investigator, occultist, and shaman; I can’t remember having read one before. When Jack gives his business card to someone and they return it with a request for help, Jack is bound to help them, through what he calls a “Guest,” but which sounds like a geas to me. A woman, Carole Acker, comes to Jack to tell him she feels as if part of her soul is missing, and she wants to hire him to help her. Because of the “Guest,” Jack is compelled to acquiesce, and begins tracing the missing part. Several times during the quest, Jack is told by those he encounters that he must stop; that he doesn’t know what he’s doing — but because of the Guest, he has to continue, and eventually brings Carole the missing part. It is then revealed that he shouldn’t have done that… the nay-sayers were right. Jack has three days to undo what he has done, or something extremely bad will happen. Pollack has created a world behind a world; in a New York that sounds just like our New York, there are shamans, night creatures and gangsters of this world and that one. Without being anything like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, this reminds me of that type of fiction. I enjoyed it. Rating: a solid ¤¤¤ plus.
Read Steve’s complete review of the issue (and The CW series Riverdale) here.
The cover of the January/February issue is by Charles Vess, illustrating Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s story, “Vinegar and Cinnamon.” Here’s the complete Table of Contents.
- “Homecoming” – Rachel Pollack
- “Vinegar and Cinnamon” – Nina Kiriki Hoffman
- “One Way” – Rick Norwood
- “Dunnage for the Soul” – Robert Reed
- “There Used to Be Olive Trees” – Rich Larson
- “The Regression Test” – Wole Talabi
- “A Gathering on Gravity’s Shore” – Gregor Hartmann
- “On the Problem of Replacement Children: Prevention, Coping, and Other Practical Strategies” – Debbie Urbanski
- “Alexandria” – Monica Byrne
- “Wetherfell’s Reef Runics” – Marc Laidlaw
- Kingship – Mary Soon Lee
- Books To Look For – Charles de Lint
- Books – James Sallis
- Science: Brainless Robots Stroll the Beach – Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty
- Television: Stranger (Yet Oddly Familiar) Things – Tim Pratt
- Coming Attractions
- Curiosities – David Langford
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 March 6. We last covered F&SF with the November/December issue.