Last fall, as I researched markets for a science fiction short story I’d written, I landed at the Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine website. The editor, Gordon Van Gelder, offered a free copy to anyone willing to read it and write about it at their blog. I signed up immediately. My free magazine arrived in my mailbox a couple weeks later, just as my medical issues reached a crisis. I had to postpone reading it until I was home again. And I have savored it with great pleasure.
As the title suggests, the magazine offers a mixture of fantasy and science fiction, novelettes and short stories, with columns on books and movies. I was somewhat surprised by the gentleness of the fiction. I don’t know why I was expecting more muscular, bloody action, unless I’ve become inured to it through contemporary culture. The surprise was welcome and refreshing. This fiction demands thought from the reader, explores different dimensions (and Hell) as well as our very own terra firma, riffs off established ideas and gives the reader new ones.
Out of a superb collection, here are my favorites:
The Blight Family Singers by Kit Reed: this story of a past-its-prime singing family at a college campus to perform in the dead of winter was hilarious.
Inside Time by Tim Sullivan: this novelette starts out rather benign as Herel Jablov arrives at a time station and meets Mae, the only other inhabitant. The time station is located in a knot of time, and he’s been picked up because he failed to return to his original time from the future. Hmmmm…. Things start to get really tense when a second man, Conway, arrives with ideas to shake up their quiet life. Herel waits for the ship to come to return him to his original time while Conway puts the moves on Mae. Herel’s not pleased about that and his choice of action determines his fate.
I Needs Must Part, The Policeman Said by Richard Bowes: the narrator of this story ends up in the hospital with an intestinal obstruction that requires surgery. In addition to nurses, orderlies and doctors, he meets Sister Immaculata and McGittrick. He thinks they are morphine-generated hallucinations until one nurse confirms for him that they do, in fact, exist. Both are after his soul. I loved this story, but I was glad I hadn’t read it during my recent hospitalization.
I recommend Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine to anyone who enjoys fantasy and science fiction stories written with daring and original ideas in well-crafted prose. Thank you, Gordon Van Gelder, for the free issue. I’ve already sent in my subscription…..