The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mar/Apr 2022, Volume 142 #760 (magazine review).

The joy of magazines such as this is the range of stories and writers that are included. In this particular issue of ‘The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction’, many of the stories end with a touch of hope, however bleak the actual story is.

The cover, produced for the lead novelette ‘Dancing Little Marionettes’ by Megan Beadle is unsettling. It shows a dead marionette tangled in her strings and the wood of her body split from toe to shoulder. It matches perfectly one scene in the story. Although the marionettes are carved from wood, they have a life of their own. The narrator is their creator and operator and, during the performance, they tell the story of sisters in love with the same man who has to choose between them. Then one sister’s body splits and she cannot be mended. The other is unable to dance without her twin. She is encouraged to dance again by another marionette who was not created as a dancer but they bring out the best in each other. In some ways, it is a typical obstacle laden romance but ends with hope.

‘Void’ by Ranjeev Prasad is a very different story. In a future war, casualties that die or cannot be saved are sent into the Void. Amare is the person detailed to do the job. Then he gets the order to Void all POWs, an instruction that doesn’t sit easily with the idea of being a healer. Amare hopes that the two injured ones will die before he is forced to do so. When the situation dramatically changes, Amare discovers that there is some hope left for some.

‘Done In The Mire’ by Adriana C. Grigore is a bizarre story. A woman who has been trapped in a well and surviving for fifty years is finally able to escape, with the help of Dimitar who makes a deal with the spirit holding her prisoner giving her the hope of freedom.

Sometimes, for hope to become a reality, sacrifices need to be made. In ‘Lilith’ by Ethan Smestad, Adam and Lilith are the last survivors in the Ark, a habitat on Mars. They tend the animals living there while the planet is terraformed enough to support life. Lilith hopes that the animals will eventually be able to roam free.

Hope can be twisted, as the immigrants in ‘From This Side Of The Rock’ by Yvette Lisa Ndlova know well. They either become citizens or are deported to where they came from. The price of naturalisation is having something taken away, such as sight, language or love. There is no knowing what will be taken.

It isn’t hope of better circumstances that lead Peter to help an injured boggle in ‘Woven’ by Amanda Dier, he helps out of compassion with no thought of reward. This is a gentle story laced with charm.

Amongst the other stories in this issue, ‘The Mule’ by Matthew Hughes is another in a fantasy sequence that has appeared in other issues involving the discriminator Cascor and the wizard Ifgenio. In this case, they are trying to retrieve the stolen name of an entity.

‘The Living Furniture’ by Yefim Zozulya is translated from the Russian by Alex Shwartsman. Although originally published a century ago, it is an allegory relating to the tsarist regime and the communist uprising.

Add the regular features, and once again there is something for everyone in this issue.

Pauline Morgan

June 2022

(pub: Spilogale Inc. 260 page A5 magazine. Price: $ 8.99 (US), $ 9.99 (CAN). ISSN: 1095-8258)

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