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The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/Jun 2023, Volume 144 #767 (magazine review).

Any magazine worth reading will have a range of contents but not all of the items will appeal to all readers. They are also a good place to try out new writers or genres normally avoided. MF&SF always has a good mix, including a number of authors making a first appearance in the magazine, especially as there is a very high quality control.

Matthew Hughes is someone who will be familiar to regular readers and ‘The Dire Delusion’ is another enjoyable story involving Castor the Discriminator. In this fantasy world where magic is endemic, he is the equivalent of a private detective. His team include an academic wizard, his acolyte and a sorceress. The problem he has to investigate this time is a situation where thieves are having their ill-gotten gains stolen and they don’t know how it is done. Castor begins to suspect trancers, a sect that has been outlawed in the city since the event known as the Dire Delusion. Now it looks as if someone is out for revenge. This issue is worth it for this story alone, though there are other pieces that also merit attention.

A number of stories in this issue draw on fairy tale or folklore in various parts of the world. ‘Knotty Girl’ by Melissa A Watkins is a variation on the Rapunzel story, this time from the point of view of the maiden trapped in the tower.

‘In Time, All Foxes Grieve Westward’ by Lark Morgan Lu is a strange story that draws on the spirit of the none-tailed fox and involves, dynasties, diaspora and the relationship between mother and son.

‘A Truth So Loyal and Vicious’ by Fatima Taqvi is a parable about twin sisters. At birth, their mother is told that one will be fortunate, the other unfortunate and names them accordingly even though she is not sure which is which. The story is a study of perception, in that people often become what others perceive them to be and that perceptions can be wrong.

‘Amrit’ by Kiran Kaur Saini is a glimpse of what the future may hold. Fox Singh, an independent elderly man, is forced to accept a Senior Well-Being Unit which has been paid for by mandatory contributions by his son. Fox doesn’t think he needs this kind of assistance and is reluctant to let the Unit, Amrit, into his life.

‘Highway Requiem’ by T.R. Napper is a different kind of future. Kev Campbell is a trucker driving across Australia on a tight schedule. He and the truck are a dying breed as the intention is to phase out of existence all road transport.

This issues contains a number of very short pieces. The best flash fiction can be thought-provoking and takes skill to do well. ‘Time And Art’ by Barbara Krasnoff resonates with all those who don’t have the time to follow their dreams. Here, a woman is told that she can have the time, but it will come off the end of her allotted life-span.

‘We Are Happy To Serve You’ by Margaret Dunlop is a humorous rant about vending machines that promise more than they can offer, set on a space station, while ‘Titan Retreat’ by Ria Rees gives all the necessary information in a succinct way as the narrator relocates to Titan.

Jerry Oltion’s Science Column clearly explains why most sundials don’t tell the correct time and how to make sure yours does. Along with the regular poetry and the usual reviews, there is plenty to like in this issue.

Pauline Morgan

July 2023

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

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