The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2021, Volume 141 #758 (magazine review).

One of the things that MF&SF does well is inclusivity. The authors represented in this volume originate from all across the globe. Amongst the places are Australia, Iceland, Russia and Greece. A number of stories are the authors’ first appearances in this magazine although they may have been published elsewhere.

At the same time, there are familiar names such as Charles de Lint whose regular column suggests books to look out for. There is also the usual mix of fantasy, SF, poetry and articles.

‘Broad Duty Water: A Sunken Story by Nalo Hopkinson is the lead story and the subject of the excellent cover illustration by Maurizio Manzieri. It is set a background of a future affected by climate change, sea levels having risen dramatically. Jacquee’s home is a floating platform that acts as a vertical farm for growing kelp and mussels.

As the story opens, Jacquee is flying home after having had surgery to upgrade her implant, along with Lickchop, an enhanced pig. She runs into a storm and crashes on an island with no means of communication.

T.R. Napper has set his futuristic story, ‘A Vast Silence’, on his home continent of Australia. When Sally Redacre offers a lift from Melbourne to Perth to Jackson Nguyen she thinks he is a fellow student. Thus it is a surprise to her when the police stop them two hundred kilometres into the desert. The story revolves around a piece of tech that Jackson is unaware has been planted on him but which the cops have been instructed to get back with no witnesses!

Many of the others can be regarded of fantasy but covering a wide spectrum of the genre. This volume’s novella ‘Mad Milk’ by Natalia Theodoridou is the closest to the classic form. Semandra leads an army on a campaign on behalf of King Pyrson against a neighbouring country. She believes the enemy is responsible for the destruction of a village and the death of her lover. The mad milk turns the troops into berserkers. It is a story of loss, love, grief and betrayal.

‘Laki’ by Eleanor Arnason is set in Iceland and takes place during an eruption of one of the many volcanoes. As the family flee, they encounter a group of trolls that have also been driven from their home. While this is a hopeful story involving supernatural creatures, ‘Lajos And His Bees’ by K.A. Teryna (translated from the Russian by Alex Shvartsman) is more of a fable. Lajos is a misfit who lives as a hermit in the mountains with his bees. Trouble only occurs when he falls in love with a village girl.

‘A Demon’s Christmas Carol’ by Jennie Goloboy is urban fantasy and has charm. Two children who are ill-treated by their foster mother summon a demon who agrees to take care of them. Although the demon has ulterior motives, they are positive ones.

The work of Megan Lindholm is always worth reading. Her story, ‘A Dime’, is a clever, subtle piece of writing. Every Christmas since she left home, the narrator has gone to the same payphone to call her parents. Over the years, the area it is in has changed for the worse. She is getting old but the ritual of the Christmas phone call persists. It is a delightful and poignant story.

Along with these stories and the others on this volume, Jerry Olton’s Science column on telescopes is worth a read. Inspired by a story that made a fundamental error, he explains in terms that anyone can understand, why the author got it wrong and the workings and limitation of optical instruments.

As usual, there is something for everyone here.

Pauline Morgan

November 2021

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

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