The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mar/Apr 2023, Volume 144 #766 (magazine review).

How a story is received often depends on the reader’s mood at the time of reading. Sometimes, a simple, well-told tale is just what’s needed, while at other times, a more complex or challenging story that engages the intellect can be equally satisfying. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (MF&SF) caters to both preferences. Not every story will suit every mood or occasion, but there’s always enough variety to stimulate readers. In this issue, two stories stand out for their warmth and ingenuity.

From its title alone, ‘The Weremouse of Millicent Bradley Middle School’ by Peter S. Beagle raises expectations of delight, and it doesn’t disappoint. The narrator, Graham, excels in math and attends the same class as his older sister, Lucy. Their math teacher is a witch who curses Lucy, turning her into a mouse at random intervals. The siblings must prevent adults from discovering Lucy’s situation while trying to lift the curse. The story not only entertains but also showcases the strong bond between the siblings.

Another charming story is ‘Mr. Catt’ by Eleanor Arnason. Imagine Puss-in-Boots living a quiet life as a human-sized cat in clothes, walking on his hind legs. One day, Mr. Catt decides he wants a dragon and embarks on a quest to find one. He learns that dragons are highly intelligent, and keeping one as a pet isn’t a wise idea, so he opts to help the dragon return home. The novelette format allows the authors ample space to develop their characters.

M. H. Ayinde’s ‘Piggyback Girl’ explores the consequences of social media’s influence when taken to the extreme. Influencer Amber Phoenix agrees to have a chip installed, enabling her followers to tune in and experience her life at any time. The chip proves far more intrusive than she anticipated.

Expanding further, ‘The Station Master’ by Lavie Tidhar is a snapshot of a Mars interconnected by railways, skillfully packing a lot into just seven pages. Meanwhile, ‘Solar Boy’ by K.C. Ahia is a problem-solving tale in which a trained engineer, Cam Newton, signs on as a deckhand on the solar ship, The Fantasy. Cam must convince the captain that his suggestion to fix the ship’s new design will work, showcasing the underdog’s triumph.

In ‘Ouroborus’ by Matthew Lebowitz, the myth of the world worm eating its tail converges with virtual reality. Developer Garrett Stone creates a new generation of virtual reality headsets, but unexpected side effects emerge, prompting questions about reality. Tade Thompson’s ‘The Sweet in the Empty’ takes readers to the Arabian Peninsula, where a protagonist seeks out a fabled oasis to rescue his son from slavers.

Nuzo Onah’s ‘The Madding’ is a horror story set in Africa, revolving around a hamlet plagued by witchcraft. Additionally, the issue includes the usual articles, review columns from Charles de Lint and Michelle West, and an increased number of poems, including four thought-provoking SF poems by Michael Meyerhofer.

As with other issues, this one offers a range of exceptional fiction to interest most genre readers.

Pauline Morgan

April 2023

(pub: Spilogale Inc. 260 page A5 magazine. Price: $ 9.99 (US), $10.99 (CAN). ISSN: 1095-8258)

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