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The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November/December 2016 (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, #728)

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CONTENT: Novelets "The Cat Bell" by Ester M. Friesner "The Farmboy" by Albert E. Cowdrey "The Vindicator" by Matthew Hughes "Passelande" by Robert Reed Short Stories "Between Going and Staying" by Lilliam Rivera "The Place of Bones" by Gardner Dozois "Lord Elgin at the Acropolis" by Minsoo Kang "Special Collections" by Kurt Fawver "A Fine Balance" by Charlotte Ashley "The Rhyme Man" b CONTENT: Novelets "The Cat Bell" by Ester M. Friesner "The Farmboy" by Albert E. Cowdrey "The Vindicator" by Matthew Hughes "Passelande" by Robert Reed Short Stories "Between Going and Staying" by Lilliam Rivera "The Place of Bones" by Gardner Dozois "Lord Elgin at the Acropolis" by Minsoo Kang "Special Collections" by Kurt Fawver "A Fine Balance" by Charlotte Ashley "The Rhyme Man" by James Beamon "Merry Christmas from All of Us to All of You" by Sandra McDonald Volume 131, No. 5&6 #728, November/December 2016 Edited by C.C. Finlay Cover art by Kristin Kest


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CONTENT: Novelets "The Cat Bell" by Ester M. Friesner "The Farmboy" by Albert E. Cowdrey "The Vindicator" by Matthew Hughes "Passelande" by Robert Reed Short Stories "Between Going and Staying" by Lilliam Rivera "The Place of Bones" by Gardner Dozois "Lord Elgin at the Acropolis" by Minsoo Kang "Special Collections" by Kurt Fawver "A Fine Balance" by Charlotte Ashley "The Rhyme Man" b CONTENT: Novelets "The Cat Bell" by Ester M. Friesner "The Farmboy" by Albert E. Cowdrey "The Vindicator" by Matthew Hughes "Passelande" by Robert Reed Short Stories "Between Going and Staying" by Lilliam Rivera "The Place of Bones" by Gardner Dozois "Lord Elgin at the Acropolis" by Minsoo Kang "Special Collections" by Kurt Fawver "A Fine Balance" by Charlotte Ashley "The Rhyme Man" by James Beamon "Merry Christmas from All of Us to All of You" by Sandra McDonald Volume 131, No. 5&6 #728, November/December 2016 Edited by C.C. Finlay Cover art by Kristin Kest

30 review for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November/December 2016 (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, #728)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I encountered a number of good stories and two works that I absolutely adored: "The Cat Bell" by Esther M. Friesner and "Special Collections" by Fawver. I added those two to my awards consideration list. I encountered a number of good stories and two works that I absolutely adored: "The Cat Bell" by Esther M. Friesner and "Special Collections" by Fawver. I added those two to my awards consideration list.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kam Yung Soh

    An average issue with fun stories by Ester M. Friesner and Matthew Hughes; also fine stories by Lilliam Rivera, Charlotte Ashley and Minsoo Kang. And it's always a treat to read a Gardner Dozois story as opposed to reading stories edited by him. - "The Cat Bell" by Ester M. Friesner: a very entertaining light fantasy about a household for a famous actor run by a fussy, bossy cook who is secretly infatuated with the actor. However, there is one act she hates: feeding the actor's cats. When she giv An average issue with fun stories by Ester M. Friesner and Matthew Hughes; also fine stories by Lilliam Rivera, Charlotte Ashley and Minsoo Kang. And it's always a treat to read a Gardner Dozois story as opposed to reading stories edited by him. - "The Cat Bell" by Ester M. Friesner: a very entertaining light fantasy about a household for a famous actor run by a fussy, bossy cook who is secretly infatuated with the actor. However, there is one act she hates: feeding the actor's cats. When she gives that job to a willing servant one day, it would set off a chain of events revolving around a strangely familiar cat with the power to make the wishes of people come true. But as in all such stories, be careful what you wish for, especially when the cook wishes for the actor to love her back. - "The Farmboy" by Albert E. Cowdrey: a well-worn type of tale about a group of people who, greedy for gold, are willing to kill or abandon their fellow travellers for it. Setting it on another planet, however, doesn't make such a tale any more interesting that others of its kind. - "The Vindicator" by Matthew Hughes: an entertaining fantasy story about a thief who suddenly discovers that he has been targeted by an assassin. Investigating the reason for the assassination attempts reveals a trail of altered records and a strange object that may have a hand in bringing the various characters in the story together. - "Passelande" by Robert Reed: a story about a private detective that didn't hold my attention. Here, in a world where stored personalities may have a life of their own, the private detective is ask to help a personality find its missing owner. But it may be tied in with another request, this time to kill another person. - "Between Going and Staying" by Lilliam Rivera: an emotional story about a dancer in Latin America who dresses up to dance to honour the dead. But her dance performances are usually for the rich and corrupt and her world comes crashing down when her close friend becomes one of the people made 'missing' and her mother implores her to come to dance for her. But at the end of it, does she have the will to give up her riches and join in the denunciation of corruption? - "The Place of Bones" by Gardner Dozois: a fantastical piece about travellers who wander through a hidden pass to find a graveyard of dragon bones. But are they driven by madness in their search of the desolated land for a rumour of a still living dragon? - "Lord Elgin at the Acropolis" by Minsoo Kang: an interesting detective / speculative story about a museum director who apparently goes mad by claiming that a well-known painting he sees everyday is suddenly a fake. A detective visits his writer friend about the case and as the writer starts throwing out possible reasons for this, you start to realise you may be part of the story itself and left wondering which reason, if any, are true; or fake. - "Special Collections" by Kurt Fawver: a story that starts out interesting but descends into the run-of-the-mill 'horror mystery without a solution' type of story. The story is about the Special Collections room of a library that people are told never to enter alone for those who do never return. The story is a chronicle of the people who want to investigate the room, with asides telling of its past history, but the reader is left hanging at the end of the story. - "A Fine Balance" by Charlotte Ashley: set in a place where duelling is used to decide standing and wealth, two duellers have been at it for some time, raising the stakes. But when one of them vanishes for a length of time and the other is ambushed, a plan is revealed to alter the balance of power between the city and the duellers. - "The Rhyme Man" by James Beamon: the usual story of a musician who yearns to play well but is now past his prime. But he may be able to do so by choosing the right tune; and meeting a person who can tell him how to get the rhythm. - "Merry Christmas from All of Us to All of You" by Sandra McDonald: consumerism has run rampant and Santa's factory is working hard to fulfill orders. Of course, working conditions have to give way under the constant strain and willing recruits are hard to find. You know this won't end well.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I love this magazine. Fun, entertaining, unique and comfortable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Replogle

    Good stories but nothing that made me go "Whoa!" As always got some good suggestions from the book recommendations and enjoyed the movie review Good stories but nothing that made me go "Whoa!" As always got some good suggestions from the book recommendations and enjoyed the movie review

  5. 5 out of 5

    Skjam!

    The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction started publication in 1949. According to Wikipedia, it was supposed to be a fantasy story version of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine as it was at the time, classic reprints mixed with new material of a higher literary quality than was common in the pulps of the time. Science fiction was added to expand the possible pool of stories. F&SF has managed to publish fairly regularly ever since, though in recent years it’s bimonthly. It has a reputation for liter The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction started publication in 1949. According to Wikipedia, it was supposed to be a fantasy story version of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine as it was at the time, classic reprints mixed with new material of a higher literary quality than was common in the pulps of the time. Science fiction was added to expand the possible pool of stories. F&SF has managed to publish fairly regularly ever since, though in recent years it’s bimonthly. It has a reputation for literate fiction. The cover story is “The Cat Bell” by Esther M. Friesner. Mr. Ferguson is a successful actor in the early Twentieth Century, even having a fine house with servants. One of those servants, Cook, greatly admires Mr. Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson greatly admires cats, and has nineteen of them that Cook must feed every day. One day there are twenty cats, and Cook finds herself in a fairy tale. Content note: Cook suffers from several of the less pleasant “isms” and isn’t afraid to say so. “The Farmboy” by Albert E. Cowdrey is set on a distant planet being surveyed by a scout ship. The crew has discovered a massive deposit of gold, but even if they had room to take it with them, the government would simply confiscate the wealth, giving nothing to the survey crew. Several of the crew members come up with a scheme to make themselves very rich at the expense of the rest of the crew. But if you can’t spot the sucker at the poker game, it’s probably you…some unpleasant sexism. “Between Going and Staying” by Lilliam Rivera takes place in a future Mexico even more dominated by the drug cartels. Dolores is a professional mourner using the newest bodysuit technology. She’s been making very good money performing for the wealthy, but this funeral is personal. There are two book review columns, one by Charles de Lint, in which he admits not being fond of psychological horror. The other is by Chris Moriarty and focuses on books about human survival. “The Vindicator” by Matthew Hughes is the last story in his current cycle about Raffalon the thief. Raffalon is a mediocre burglar in the sort of fantasy city that has a Thieves’ Guild. For some reason a Vindicator (assassin) is after Raffalon, and the Vindicator’s Guild isn’t being helpful for calling it off. Raffalon hires a Discriminator (private investigator) and the truth turns out to be explosive. A relatively rare Gardner Dozois story follows, “The Place of Bones.” A scholar and his companion discover the Dragonlands, where dragons go to die. More of a mood piece than a proper story. “Lord Elgin at the Acropolis” by Minsoo Kang involves a police officer and writer meeting to consider the problem of a museum director who believes that one of the paintings in the museum is fake, despite no other evidence. Is he just crazy, or is there another explanation? “Special Collections” by Kurt Fawver is a horror story about a library with a section you must never enter alone, which is the first rule. And then there’s the second rule…. David J. Skal reviews High-Rise for the film section, and compares it to the J.G. Ballard novel. There’s the results of a contest for updating older science fiction works to today’s world. Including a “Dishonorable Mention” update of 1984. “A Fine Balance” by Charlotte Ashley is set in a city where all disputes between the two major parties are settled by specially trained duelists. Except that one side doesn’t want to play by those rules any more. Very satisfying story. “Passelande” by Robert Reed takes place in a depressing near future with electronic backups for people who can afford them. Backups who have their own feelings and motivations. This one grated on me, as I felt the characters had their motivations poorly explained/depicted. “The Rhythm Man” by James Beamon is a variant on the legend about talented musicians selling their souls for skill or fame. A lot of set-up for one great scene at the end. And the stories wrap up with “Merry Christmas from All of Us to All of You” by Sandra McDonald. It’s a dystopian tale of a gift-making community that ensures none of its children can truly escape. But perhaps there is a ray of hope? There’s an “Easter egg” in the classified ads, and then an index of stories and features that appeared in 2016’s issues. I liked “The Vindicator” and “A Fine Balance” best, though “The Cat Bell” was also quite entertaining. “Passendale” was the weakest story for me. This magazine has consistently high quality stories and some nice cartoons; consider a print or Kindle subscription.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Josée Lepire

    Qualité inégale des nouvelles. Quelques unes des meilleures nouvelles ne touchent que de loin aux littératures de l'imaginaire. The Cat Bell, d'Esther Friesner: Ton sarcastique, amusant, mais le personnage principal est antipathique, la fin est prévisible, il y a une cassure de point de vue obligée, mais maladroite, et la personnification du chat botté est trop près du chat dans "Shrek". 3/5 The Farmboy, d'Albert E. Cowdrey: Progression peu crédible des personnages, les deux protagonistes féminins so Qualité inégale des nouvelles. Quelques unes des meilleures nouvelles ne touchent que de loin aux littératures de l'imaginaire. The Cat Bell, d'Esther Friesner: Ton sarcastique, amusant, mais le personnage principal est antipathique, la fin est prévisible, il y a une cassure de point de vue obligée, mais maladroite, et la personnification du chat botté est trop près du chat dans "Shrek". 3/5 The Farmboy, d'Albert E. Cowdrey: Progression peu crédible des personnages, les deux protagonistes féminins sont mal construites, le dénouement est raconté au passé du texte, donc on ne le voit pas et ça donne une impression de facilité. Au long du texte, on ressent peu, comme à la lecture du squelette d'une histoire. 2/5 Between Going and Staying, de Lilliam Rivera: Histoire sentie, personnages prenants, humains, touchants. On nous embarque dans un rituel, dans sa perversion, puis un retour au source. Beau récit malgré la fin amère. Cependant, l'aspect SF est à peine présent via un gadget à l'importance minime sur l'histoire. 4/5 The Vindicator, de Matthew Hughes: Nouvelle qui manque de direction et s'écarte dans les méandres, tourne autour du pot pour aboutir à une fin aux éléments plutôt clichés. Belle plume, surtout dans les descriptions, mais l'humour est parfois trop appuyé et casse le rythme. 2.5/5 The Place of Bones, de Gardner Dozois: Récit court au style fluide, à l'atmosphère et l'univers concrétisés en une économie de mots. Le mystère reste entier au terme de l'histoire, qui chemine inexorablement vers sa conclusion dramatique. Le sentiment de fatalité est instillé par le choix judicieux des mots. Très bien. : 5/5 Lord Elgin at the Acropolis, de Minsoo Kang: Structure intéressant, qui intrigue au début, car le mystère est raconté par l'enquêteur au cours d'un dialogue, plutôt que d'être vécu "en direct". Le dialogue entre les deux amis devient le point d'intérêt, un parallèle avec le processus créatif et met en place la sensation que toutes les: hypothèses sont valables, ce qui prépare bien la fin. Ce n'est pas une chute, mais une confirmation des instincts des amis, tout en laissant en suspend la résolution complète de l'intrigue. 4.5/5 Special Collections, de Kurt Fawver: Narration au "nous" qui est d'abord déstabilisante et qui rend impossible l'identification précise dudit narrateur. On est tranquillement hypnotisé par le rythme des phrases et l'aspect kabalistique du mystère. La fin est un peu décalée. On sent l'intention de semer le doute sur la véracité du récit, peut-être même d'infuser un peu d'humour, mais ce n'est pas au point. 3.5/5 A Fine Balance, de Charlotte Ashley: On est invité dans un univers aux coutumes étrangères, mais dont le fonctionnement demeure trop nébuleux. On se pose des questions tout le long et ça distrait. Si l'on écarte cela, l'écriture est efficace, enlevante et la résolution est parfaite... mais il nous manque une assise suffisamment solide au début pour que le tout réussisse complètement. 3.5/5 Passelande, de Robert Reed: Il y a des idées très intéressantes dans cette histoires, et des éléments inclus qui ne sont jamais développés. On sent qu'on passe à côté du principal, que l'auteur a trop voulu suggéré et qu'il aurait dû, à quelques reprises, être moins "artistiquement flou". On s'attache aux personnages, ils sont la force du texte. 3/5 The Rythm Man, de James Beamon: Belle ambiance, un vocabulaire qui nous plonge dans l'univers musical, nous enveloppe, un effleurement d'un personnage fantastique, cousin éloigné du Diable de Faust. Lecture agréable. 3.5/5 Merry Christmas from All of us to all of you, de Sandra McDonald: Récit placé dans un contexte peu crédible, semi-humoristique, semi-moqueur, qui déboule trop vite, avec trop d'éléments à la limite caricaturaux pour qu'on se soucie vraiment de ce qui se passera. La conclusion nous laisse indifférent. 2/5

  7. 5 out of 5

    G33z3r

    "The Vindicator" by Matthew Hughes — This is another of the author's sword & sorcery stories of Raffalon the thief, and I think it's the best one so far (the preamble also says it will be the last of the series?) It stands alone just fine, and held my interest throughout, as Raffalon tries rather desperately to figure who hired the local assassins guild to kill him. **** "Merry Christmas from All of Us to All of You" by Sandra McDonald — A humorous story about Santa Corp.'s Arctopolis, cleverly to "The Vindicator" by Matthew Hughes — This is another of the author's sword & sorcery stories of Raffalon the thief, and I think it's the best one so far (the preamble also says it will be the last of the series?) It stands alone just fine, and held my interest throughout, as Raffalon tries rather desperately to figure who hired the local assassins guild to kill him. **** "Merry Christmas from All of Us to All of You" by Sandra McDonald — A humorous story about Santa Corp.'s Arctopolis, cleverly told to incorporate phrases from dozens of Christmas songs. It seems the North Pole isn't a workers paradise. **** "The Farmboy" by Albert E. Cowdrey — Interestingly, this sci-fi story begins by previewing the end. A space exploratory expedition has discovered an incredibly habitable planet. Unfortunately, they also find a lot of readily accessible gold, and some people start to get greedy. Interestingly told if light on the actual sci-fi. *** "The Cat Bell" by Ester M. Friesner — Amusing fable/morality play featuring Puss'n'Boots granting wishes to those kind to cats, and how it affects the household servants of the wealthy mansion. *** "The Place of Bones" by Gardner Dozois — A very short story about a couple of men who venture out into the Dragonlands in hopes of perhaps actually seeing one of the creatures. Of course, no one ever returns from the Dragonlands... *** "Lord Elgin at the Acropolis" by Minsoo Kang — A museum's director claims all the paintings have been replaced by forgeries, no other experts dispute the idea. A sci-fi author suggests several strange, possible explanations to the police. It's a clever idea, though it seems to run on a bit overlong. ***1/2* "Between Going and Staying" by Lilliam Rivera — An unusual future in which one can apparently make a living by being a professional mourner at funerals, and even achieve a great deal of celebrity by doing so. But this particular mourner is so caught up in the role of mourning, she can take the time to really care. Actually, I was on her side. *** "The Rhyme Man" by James Beamon — Old bluesman seeks legendary supernatural Rhyme Man in the hopes of trading for a wish. Angles for a sentimental conclusion it didn't entirely earn. **1/2*

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jovan

    Always a great feeling when I finish reading one of these magazines. This one had a lot of stories I have forgotten about because of the long gaps between reading. It got pretty beat up being carried everywhere I go. One story got me reflecting on how cynical I can be with certain things. Overall good. I look forward to writing in my book journal and moving on to the next issue in my backlog.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Heather Pagano

    I'm glad I read the issue. Short stories were solidly in the middle of the spectrum- some pretty good, some very good. There were no stellar standouts, but not a single story was subpar, either. The story about Santa's elves was good seasonal fun. I'm glad I read the issue. Short stories were solidly in the middle of the spectrum- some pretty good, some very good. There were no stellar standouts, but not a single story was subpar, either. The story about Santa's elves was good seasonal fun.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

    Nothing particularly exceptional. My favorite piece was the book review...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meran

    review later

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lizabeth Tucker

    There are eleven short stories and novellas in this latest issue. A good collection with some quality work, even one Christmas themed story. Overall rating is 4.1 out of 5. "The Cat Bell" by Esther M. Friesner Cook hated the cats that her employer insisted onadopting and feeding every day. She wanted nothing to do with them. So when a stray appears, she literally throws him out. While away on an enforced vacation, others who feed the cats fall into good fortune. A great twist on Puss in Boots, al There are eleven short stories and novellas in this latest issue. A good collection with some quality work, even one Christmas themed story. Overall rating is 4.1 out of 5. "The Cat Bell" by Esther M. Friesner Cook hated the cats that her employer insisted onadopting and feeding every day. She wanted nothing to do with them. So when a stray appears, she literally throws him out. While away on an enforced vacation, others who feed the cats fall into good fortune. A great twist on Puss in Boots, although Cook got off too lightly, if you ask me. 4 out of 5. "The Farmboy" by Albert E. Cowdrey When gold is discovered on what the expedition engineer likes to call Earth II, the medical officer has an idea to smuggle some back home. The idea grows into a complicated plan as she gathers greedy accomplices who can make it happen. But there will be a high price to pay. Double-cross becomes triple-cross as the people involved let their greed destroy what little honor they might have had. An engrossing tale of human frailties. 4.5 out of 5. "Between Going and Staying" by Lilliam Rivera Dolores is a doliente, hired to attend funerals and memorials in costumes that either represent or honor the deceased. She is called home by her mother after an ex-lover is kidnapped, becoming one of the Disappeared. The stories that can be the hardest to read are those based on truth. Dolores knows you cannot turn back time, no matter how hard you might try. 4.5 out of 5. "The Vindicator" by Matthew Hughes Someone is out to kill Raffalon the Thief, for what he doesn't know. With the help of Cascor the Discriminator, Raffalon learns much more than he possibly wants to know. This, the last of the Raffalon stories, is the first that I've read. He is a most interesting character with a strong sense of self-preservation. 4 out of 5. "The Place of Bones" by Gardner Dozois Told by the unnamed tutor of Martin, a second son and scholar with a yearning to explore the Dragonlands. Wow! I tend to forget that Dozois is as fine a writer as he is an editor. This is so short a tale, yet so intense. From symptoms that indicate radiation sickness to the tutor's shocking, yet sensible, efforts to survive the trip back through the still glowing bones of thousands of dead dragons in a land where nothing seems to live. And yet. And yet. 5 out of 5. "Lord Elgin at the Acropolis" by Minsoo Kang An art museum director declares his favorite painting and others as fake. There is no proof and he is ultimately let go from his job. Police detective O, haunted by the case, asks his childhood friend and novelist An to concoct a story to explain what happened. This is the kind of creepy story that would make a good Twilight Zone episode. Although, for me, this type of story always works better in visual form. 3 out of 5. "Special Collections" by Kurt Fawver The first rule of the library was to never go into the Special Collections room alone. A group of employees test that rule over the years. The result is always the same, the individual urged into the room never returns. Talk about creepy! No solution given to the core mystery, just chills. 4 out of 5. "A Fine Balance" by Charlotte Ashley Dueling as a way to keep the peach only works if those in charge honor it. Shoanna Yildirim was a mighty duelist, her opponent equally so. But Shoanna's sponsors aren't as wealthy as Kara's, causing Kara's sponsors to break the rules in an effort to take over. The rivals band together, fighting back. Shoanna and Kara are strong women of honor, even when faced with dishonor from those they fight for. 3.5 out of 5. "Passelande" by Robert Reed The AI backups reach out to Lucas Pepper, realizing that he understands them. One may have arranged for the murder of Lucas' friend, a concept that was too hard for humans to accept. Another is worried about her missing husband. I'm not certain what to say about this story. I liked it, yet struggled to write a synopsis. It was strange and interesting and intriguing and most extraordinary. 4.5 out of 5. "The Rhythm Man" by James Beamon Horace is a blues man, his trumpet playing affected by a lip that twitches uncontrollably. The blues itself has been pushed aside by audiences that want speed, fast music that they can dance to. Knowing his time is almost up, H0race goes looking for the Rhythm Man to make a special deal. Dear God, that last line destroyed me! As painful as it might be, Horace appears to believe his choice was correct. 4.5 out of 5. "Merry Christmas from All of Us to All of You" by Sandra McDonald All the tropes and phrases of Christmas are used in a most disturbing manner in this tale of the latest graduates from the North Pole Charter School Academy. 4.5 out of 5.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Loyd

    7 • The Cat Bell • 23 pages by Esther M. Friesner VG/Good. Cook is disgusted that she has to feed nineteen cats and when a stray comes in she shoos it out before the master can adopt it. Fear not cat lovers, the rest of the characters in the story adore cats. Clever. 30 • The Farmboy • 23 pages by Albert E. Cowdrey Very Good. Gold is discovered on Omega-Alpha. Anna, Guy and Sazonov plot together to find a way to smuggle it home. Anna's lover, Chuck, makes it a gang of four. Chuck may be dumb, but 7 • The Cat Bell • 23 pages by Esther M. Friesner VG/Good. Cook is disgusted that she has to feed nineteen cats and when a stray comes in she shoos it out before the master can adopt it. Fear not cat lovers, the rest of the characters in the story adore cats. Clever. 30 • The Farmboy • 23 pages by Albert E. Cowdrey Very Good. Gold is discovered on Omega-Alpha. Anna, Guy and Sazonov plot together to find a way to smuggle it home. Anna's lover, Chuck, makes it a gang of four. Chuck may be dumb, but he isn't stupid, and started to put things together. 53 • Between Going and Staying • 18 pages by Lilliam Rivera OK+. Dolores is a doliente, someone who helps family with the grieving process at funerals. Melody and twelve others have been disappeared. Her mother asks Dolores per Melody's request to come home to the funeral. Melody was an activist and Dolores spent three years with her. They parted ways and Dolores took her services to high paying customers, i.e. became a sell out. The turmoil that Dolores feels is very well done, I just couldn't wrap myself around the premise or maybe it's funerals. 92 • The Vindicator • 39 pages by Matthew Hughes Very Good+. Raffalon survives an attempt on his life and goes to the discriminator, Cascor, to find out why the Guild of Vindicators is targeting him. He survives a second attempt on his life and Cascor saves him from a third, but this leads to a bigger mystery of who was framing him. 131 • The Place of Bones • 7 pages by Gardner Dozois Fair/poor. Martin discovers a pass through the alps to the Dragonland. He and his tutor make the trip. My problem with the story is the characters are sight seers, they don't take measurements or samples of the bones they just keep going until their supplies run out. 138 • Lord Elgin at the Acropolis • 14 pages by Minsoo Kang Good/VG. The director of an art museum one day looks at a painting and declares it a fake. A detective on the case talks with a friend to find an explanation. 152 • Special Collections • 20 pages by Kurt Fawver Good+. Anyone who goes alone into the special collections room of the library disappears. The workers there strive to know what is going on, but also relish the mystery. I'm not a fan of horror type stories but I liked this one. 179 • A Fine Balance • 18 pages by Charlotte Ashley Good/vg. Emin's mentor, Mistress Yildirim, has had many grand duels with Kara Ramadami. They are the greatest Kavalye the city has known. Too great really, if Yildirim loses the Onsen would be bankrupt paying her favor. 197 • Passelande • 37 pages by Robert Reed Good+. Lucas is a private investigator that works for backups. Currently working on a case and getting a call from another backup to find out what happened to her original. Lucas bikes to Passelande, along the way meeting up with his new friends Alexis and Bracken. On the trip the new client keeps talking to Lucas, when they get to Passelande we get more background about the first client. Intriguing premise of people backing themselves up to the cloud and these entities not being static. 234 • The Rhythm Man • 12 pages by James Beamon OK/good. Horace is a once successful horn player who now can't get much of an audience. Charlie Pepper tells him that he saw the Rhythm Man prompting Horace to renew his search. 246 • Merry Christmas from All of Us to All of You • 8 pages by Sandra McDonald Good+. This years graduating class left Arctopolis to go on to the next thing, but almost all are pulled back to work for Santa. Tongue in cheek tone. The narrator is talking is such a cheery manner describing what might be a less than ideal situation for those graduates.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leroy Erickson

    This wasn't one of the better issues. It has a couple of good stories, but nothing that I'd urge people to rush out to buy it for. Esther M. Friesner - The Cat Bell - 3 stars - Puss-in-Boots updated. A mean woman gets her just reward. Albert E. Cowdrey - The Farmboy - 3 stars - Planetary exploration meets human greed. This story read like something from the 50s. Lilliam Rivera - Between Going and Staying - 4 stars - This one reads well and touches your emotions, but doesn't surrender by giving you This wasn't one of the better issues. It has a couple of good stories, but nothing that I'd urge people to rush out to buy it for. Esther M. Friesner - The Cat Bell - 3 stars - Puss-in-Boots updated. A mean woman gets her just reward. Albert E. Cowdrey - The Farmboy - 3 stars - Planetary exploration meets human greed. This story read like something from the 50s. Lilliam Rivera - Between Going and Staying - 4 stars - This one reads well and touches your emotions, but doesn't surrender by giving you the expected happy ending. Matthew Hughes - The Vindicator - 4 stars - Maybe 3-1/2 stars. An adventure in a city of thieves, the final tale in a series of stories about the same character. It has a Michael Moorcock type ending: if you're done writing stories about a character, destroy the city/universe in which he lives! Gardner Dozois - The Place of Bones - 4 stars - An interesting take on a magical/dimensional doorway into a strange land with glowing bones and the men who are driven to explore it. Minsoo Kang - Lord Elgin at the Acropolis - 4 stars - A very unusual "detective" story. Was there a crime? Is there a there? Kurt Fawver - Special Collections - 2-1/2 stars - It's a fractured, rambling piece of nonsense disguised as a mild horror story. Charlotte Ashley - A Fine Balance - 3 stars - Almost worth 4 stars. In a city where individual gladiators fight to avoid larger battles between opposing families, the gladiators show their true honor when one family breaks the truce. Well done. Robert Reed - Passelande - 2 stars - A man who works by cell phone as a killer for hire? Or maybe just a helper for hire? Computerized duplicates of people kept as 'backups' but independently aware? it might have been a nice idea, but it just didn't work. James Beamon - The Rhythm Man - 3 stars - A nice short story about a blues man re-finding his focus. Sandra McDonald - Merry Christmas From All of Us to All of You - 3 stars - A Santa-land rebellion that's just a little bit too cute for its own good.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    Pretty decent collection this month, my favorite this issues is a toss up between Merry Christmas and Lord Elgin. The Farmboy was also very good. Cat Bell was good, except for the fact I hate cats.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tom Loock

    Another good issue. Noteworthy stories/novelettes (alphabetically by author) for me were those by James Beamon (a variation of the story about bluesman Robert Johnson's deal with the devil), Albert E. Cowdrey (about an exploration ship and a new colony), Kurt Fawver (who used an old cliché and made something new of it), Esther M. Friesner (who managed to make me enjoy a story about cats) and Matthew Hughes (whose story about Raffalon will make me want to read the others as well). The others stori Another good issue. Noteworthy stories/novelettes (alphabetically by author) for me were those by James Beamon (a variation of the story about bluesman Robert Johnson's deal with the devil), Albert E. Cowdrey (about an exploration ship and a new colony), Kurt Fawver (who used an old cliché and made something new of it), Esther M. Friesner (who managed to make me enjoy a story about cats) and Matthew Hughes (whose story about Raffalon will make me want to read the others as well). The others stories did not work for me, so the writers shall remain nameless.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kenny V

    Matthew Hughes was good as usual with "The Vindicator," a Raffalon story and sadly the last so I hear. "Passelande" by Robert Reed was stupidly good. I loved the idea of vindictive garages punishing their owners for leaving them sloppy. Great characterization. "Place of Bones" by none other than Gardner de Zois was also great. Matthew Hughes was good as usual with "The Vindicator," a Raffalon story and sadly the last so I hear. "Passelande" by Robert Reed was stupidly good. I loved the idea of vindictive garages punishing their owners for leaving them sloppy. Great characterization. "Place of Bones" by none other than Gardner de Zois was also great.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    My favorite stories were by Lilliam Rivera, Charlotte Ashley, and James Beamon. Some of the others were a bit broad or derivative for my taste, but the columns were uniformly excellent.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hans

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark Catalfano

  21. 5 out of 5

    KateK

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Strong

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brian Pagano

  24. 5 out of 5

    James Lick

  25. 4 out of 5

    OTIS

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rita

  27. 5 out of 5

    Patrice Sarath

  28. 4 out of 5

    George Heintzelman

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bob

  30. 5 out of 5

    Scott Klobas

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