Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: Fantasy and Science Fiction, November/December 2012, Vol. 123, No. 5 and 6, Issue 704

Issue seven-oh-four of F&SF is truly a gem. I liked every story in it.
Not only Kritzer's country is back (see my review of Liberty's Daughter here), but the magazine also gives us an amazing tale, title Katabasis, by Robert Reed. Well, if you are still unhappy (and you must be a difficult person if at this point you're not satisfied!) then you get a beautiful short story by Steven Popkes.
Let's start with a quick review of the main stories, but let me repeat again that this volume is worth the dollars and the reading time.
  • "High Stakes" by Naomi Kritzer is a direct follow-up of "Liberty's Daughter" and it's based in the same not-regulated country called New Minerva. What would appear to look like heaven on earth (especially if you have a membership to the Tea Party movement) shows all its paradoxes and quirks when a reality show lands on New Minerva. Reading of "Liberty's Daughter" is suggested but absolutely not necessary.
  • "Katabasis" by Robert Reed is as close as you can be to a masterpiece. I am sorry it is not a novel. It is based on his Great Ship universe, of which I am not really familiar with. Katabasis is not only the title but the name of the main character. The readers will learn to walk with Katabasis and for this reason it seems that the story never stops marching. Trust me on this, this work of fiction is painful to read but in a good way. Louis Tilton did a good review on Locus, but it contains some spoilers. Great job, Mr. Reed.
  • "Application" by Lewis Shiner is incredibly short but incredibly good. After you read this story you will not sell that old computer that you left in the attic of which you forgot about and that you will find again one day.
  • "Claim Blame" by Alan Dean Foster. Not a great story, it revolves around a resolution of a dispute. Readable.
  • "Breathe" by Steven Popkes. Parasites/Vampires can steal breaths from other people. What are the moral implications? Beautiful idea.
There are other stories. They are all nice but not outstanding. Here's a full TOC taken from F&SF website:

November/December 2012 • 64th Year of Publication
Katabasis  – Robert Reed
High Stakes  – Naomi Kritzer
The Problem of the Elusive Cracksman  – Ron Goulart
Heaventide  – KJ Kabza
Claim Blame  – Alan Dean Foster
Application  – Lewis Shiner
Breathe  – Steven Popkes
The Ladies in Waiting  – Albert E. Cowdrey
If the Stars Reverse Their Courses, If the Rivers Run Back from the Sea  – Alter S. Reiss
Waiting for a Me like You  – Chris Willrich
Editorial  – Gordon Van Gelder
Books to Look For  – Charles de Lint
Books  – Elizabeth Hand
Films: Apocalypse, Mon Amour  – Kathi Maio
Coming Attractions  – 
Competition #84  – 
Index to Volumes 122 & 123  – 
Curiosities  – David Langford
Arthur Masear, Tom Cheney, Bill Long, Danny Shanahan, J.P. Rini
Cory and Catska Ench for "Katabasis"

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