Monday, July 14, 2014

Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2014, part 2

I've read some more of this issue, so here are some further impressions: (part 1 of this series is located here.)

When I started Paul M. Berger's "Subduction," my initial reaction was "Great, another protagonist with amnesia."  But the amnesia turned out to be an integral part of the story, not just authorial laziness, and the mystery is such a big part of the story that I really can't say any more about it without giving something away.  Just go read the story - trust me on this one.

Next up was Annalee Flower Horne's "Seven Things Cadet Blanchard Learned From the Trade Summit Incident."  I enjoyed this one while I was reading it - the light, comedic style that Horne used for this story perfectly suited it - but afterward I kept thinking about it and becoming more and more dissatisfied with it.  The story begins with a cadet on a spaceship being wrongly accused of a practical joke that released stink bombs into the ship's ventilation system.  In an effort to clear her name, she discovers bigger, darker things afoot.  And that's where everything fell apart for me.  The villains weren't over-the-top evil and incompetent in a humorous way (think Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb), which would have been great for this story.  They were just evil in a bland, corporate way, as well as being incompetent.  I started out really liking this story, but at some point it zigged where it should have zagged.

At one point in this issue's installment of Charles De Lint's "Books to Look For" column, he makes a point about how so much of the urban fantasy being published now is just kind of more of the same.  Case in point:  This issue he reviewed four novels that fall in or near the label of "urban fantasy," but after setting the magazine aside for two days I had to reread the reviews to see which was which.  I mean, they all sounded like perfectly charming books but none of them really jumped out at me in a way that made me want to read them right away.  He also reviewed a new "writers on writing" type book which, while not really my cup of tea, he seemed to really like.

Still to come:  Four more novelets (I still don't think I like that spelling), 5 short stories, the other book review column, and the movie review column.  Looking over the table of contents for the rest of the issue, I must confess I'm kind of skeptical about Ian Tregillis's contribution:  When the title of your story promises "With Diagrams" but there are no diagrams, you've just made your work that much harder.

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