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The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November-December 2020 (F&SF, #752)

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THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION November/December • 72nd Year of Publication NOVELETS THE BAHRAIN UNDERGROUND BAZAAR -6- Nadia Afifi LA REGINA RATTO- 26- Nick DiChario HOW TO BURN DOWN THE HINTERLANDS -54- Lyndsie Manusos THE GLOOMS -97- Matthew Hughes A TALE OF TWO WITCHES -194- Albert E. Cowdrey A CIVILIZED AND ORDERLY ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE PER SCHOOL REGULATIONS -217- Sari THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION November/December • 72nd Year of Publication NOVELETS THE BAHRAIN UNDERGROUND BAZAAR -6- Nadia Afifi LA REGINA RATTO- 26- Nick DiChario HOW TO BURN DOWN THE HINTERLANDS -54- Lyndsie Manusos THE GLOOMS -97- Matthew Hughes A TALE OF TWO WITCHES -194- Albert E. Cowdrey A CIVILIZED AND ORDERLY ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE PER SCHOOL REGULATIONS -217- Sarina Dorie SHORT STORIES THE HOMESTAKE PROJECT -136- Cylin Busby ON VAPOR, WHICH THE NIGHT CONDENSES -148- Gregor Hartmann THE SILENT PARTNER -166- Theodore McCombs SKIPPING STONES IN THE DARK -241- Amman Sabet POEMS LEAST WEIRD THING OF ALL -147- Beth Cato MENDED -185- Mary Soon Lee SPACE ISN’T LIKE THE VIDS -193- Beth Cato DEPARTMENTS BOOKS TO LOOK FOR -80- Charles de Lint MUSING ON BOOKS -89- Michelle West FILMS: THREE DEGREES OF SHIRLEY JACKSON -180- David J. Skal SCIENCE: IS MATH REAL? -186- Jerry Oltion COMPETITION #100 -191- COMING ATTRACTIONS -254- INDEX TO VOLUMES 138 & 139 -256- CURIOSITIES -258- Paul Di Filippo Cartoons: Mark Heath (88), Kendra Allenby (96), Bill Long (135). COVER BY DAVID A. HARDY FOR “SKIPPING STONES IN THE DARK”


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THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION November/December • 72nd Year of Publication NOVELETS THE BAHRAIN UNDERGROUND BAZAAR -6- Nadia Afifi LA REGINA RATTO- 26- Nick DiChario HOW TO BURN DOWN THE HINTERLANDS -54- Lyndsie Manusos THE GLOOMS -97- Matthew Hughes A TALE OF TWO WITCHES -194- Albert E. Cowdrey A CIVILIZED AND ORDERLY ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE PER SCHOOL REGULATIONS -217- Sari THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION November/December • 72nd Year of Publication NOVELETS THE BAHRAIN UNDERGROUND BAZAAR -6- Nadia Afifi LA REGINA RATTO- 26- Nick DiChario HOW TO BURN DOWN THE HINTERLANDS -54- Lyndsie Manusos THE GLOOMS -97- Matthew Hughes A TALE OF TWO WITCHES -194- Albert E. Cowdrey A CIVILIZED AND ORDERLY ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE PER SCHOOL REGULATIONS -217- Sarina Dorie SHORT STORIES THE HOMESTAKE PROJECT -136- Cylin Busby ON VAPOR, WHICH THE NIGHT CONDENSES -148- Gregor Hartmann THE SILENT PARTNER -166- Theodore McCombs SKIPPING STONES IN THE DARK -241- Amman Sabet POEMS LEAST WEIRD THING OF ALL -147- Beth Cato MENDED -185- Mary Soon Lee SPACE ISN’T LIKE THE VIDS -193- Beth Cato DEPARTMENTS BOOKS TO LOOK FOR -80- Charles de Lint MUSING ON BOOKS -89- Michelle West FILMS: THREE DEGREES OF SHIRLEY JACKSON -180- David J. Skal SCIENCE: IS MATH REAL? -186- Jerry Oltion COMPETITION #100 -191- COMING ATTRACTIONS -254- INDEX TO VOLUMES 138 & 139 -256- CURIOSITIES -258- Paul Di Filippo Cartoons: Mark Heath (88), Kendra Allenby (96), Bill Long (135). COVER BY DAVID A. HARDY FOR “SKIPPING STONES IN THE DARK”

30 review for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November-December 2020 (F&SF, #752)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Baker

    My review is based on the following stories/poems: Novelets: 1) How to Burn Down the Hinterland by Lyndsie Manusos 2) A Tale of Two Witches by Albert E. Cowdrey Short Story: 1) The Silent Partner by Theodore McCombs Poems: 1) Least Weird Thing of All by Beth Cato 2) Mended by Mary Soon Lee 3) Space Isn’t Like in the Vids by Beth Cato

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    Not a review. Includes two (!!!) of my poems, "Space Isn't Like in the Vids" and "Least Weird Thing of All." Not a review. Includes two (!!!) of my poems, "Space Isn't Like in the Vids" and "Least Weird Thing of All."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Fernando Goulart

    A great edition, lots of favorite and returning authors, a great mix of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and urban. There were no bad stories. My favorites were: - “How to Burn Down the Hinterlands” by Lyndsie Manusos - “The Bahrain Underground Bazaar” by Nadia Afifi - “On Vapor, Which the Night Condenses” by Gregor Hartmann - “Skipping Stones in the Dark” by Amman Sabet - “A Tale of Two Witches” by Albert E. Cowdrey - “The Glooms” by Matthew Hughes

  4. 5 out of 5

    G33z3r

    Heavily weighted towards novelettes this issue. A few I enjoyed... "A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse per School Regulations" by Sarina Dorie As the title implies, this very dark humor takes an "active shooter" approach to a zombie attack on a high school. Engagingly written. "The Glooms" by Matthew Hughes is another of his Baldemar stories. Continuing after his wizard employer has self-destructed, the henchman finds himself on the lam from rival wizards eager for some of old Thererion's sw Heavily weighted towards novelettes this issue. A few I enjoyed... "A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse per School Regulations" by Sarina Dorie As the title implies, this very dark humor takes an "active shooter" approach to a zombie attack on a high school. Engagingly written. "The Glooms" by Matthew Hughes is another of his Baldemar stories. Continuing after his wizard employer has self-destructed, the henchman finds himself on the lam from rival wizards eager for some of old Thererion's swag. Oldo returns to make it a duo. Maybe a little too much literal deus ex machina? "Skipping Stones in the Dark" by Amman Sabet Kind of a dark story from PoV of the AI running a generation ship as it struggles to deal with some of the young passengers. A few horror stories read post-Halloween bored me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John Loyd

    6 • The Bahrain Underground Bazaar • 20 pages by Nadia Afifi Good+. Zahra is old, dying of cancer (though the doctors refer to her as a survivor). She feels she is a burden to her family and has been going to the bazaar to feel how others have experienced death. She wants to choose her ending. 26 • La Regina Ratto • 28 pages by Nick Dichario Very Good+. Giuseppe found talking rats in his new home. They became his friends. All was well, except he was not advancing in his career. His friends gave h 6 • The Bahrain Underground Bazaar • 20 pages by Nadia Afifi Good+. Zahra is old, dying of cancer (though the doctors refer to her as a survivor). She feels she is a burden to her family and has been going to the bazaar to feel how others have experienced death. She wants to choose her ending. 26 • La Regina Ratto • 28 pages by Nick Dichario Very Good+. Giuseppe found talking rats in his new home. They became his friends. All was well, except he was not advancing in his career. His friends gave him some advice. Take initiative when the new boss arrives. It seemed to have worked, but he still wasn't advancing. Then it got worse. 54 • How to Burn Down the Hinterlands • 26 pages by Lyndsie Manusos Very Good. Ore forged a sword of power and was executed for it. Now the Hand is back asking her daughter to create another sword of power, a Sword of Faro. It's OK, this one is commissioned. Faro may have an ulterior motive when she accepts the task. 97 • The Glooms • 39 pages by Matthew Hughes Good/Very Good. Oldo visits Baldemar to tell him that two wizards are on their way to find him on their way to finding some of the late Thelerion's prized possessions. Baldemar is going to seek refuge with another wizard, a small chance of help is better than nothing, but getting there turns out to be an adventure. 136 • The Homestake Project • 12 pages by Cylin Busby Good. Small worms have been found two miles down in the Homestake mine. A scientist arrives there to collect samples. 148 • On Vapor, Which the Night Condenses • 18 pages by Gregor Hartmann Very Good+. Phillipa Song investigates a murder at a fragrance business. A booby trap was set in the office of their top designer, Omega, but an unfortunate coworker set the trap off first. 166 • The Silent Partner • 14 pages by Theodore McCombs OK. Mr. Roberts who runs an antique store is visiting an old lady in order to buy a table. He gets sleepy. I didn’t figure out what happened. Was the tea drugged? Did a picture he looked at have some special power? 194 • A Tale of Two Witches • 23 pages by Albert E. Cowdrey Very Good/Good. Rosie’s nephew is kidnapped. They think the Crownes had something to do with it, but since Davo went missing, Bobby Crowne killed his parents and committed suicide. And the evil nanny’s house burned down. 217 • A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse Per School Regulations • 24 pages by Sarina Dorie OK. Ms. Blackburn's class notices zombies in the playground and take appropriate steps to avoid becoming infected themselves. 241 • Skipping Stones in the Dark • 13 pages by Amman Sabet VG. A spaceship on a generational journey has an AI that keeps the human contingent well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leroy Erickson

    A pretty good issue overall, including a couple of very good stories. Nadia Afifi - The Bahrain Underground Bazaar - 5 stars - An elderly woman in the near future uses technology which has become available to relive the death experiences of other people, possibly to choose the way in which she would like to die. When she pursues one of those people's death further, sees where that woman died and meets one of her grandsons, she becomes more relaxed and comfortable with her own life and death inste A pretty good issue overall, including a couple of very good stories. Nadia Afifi - The Bahrain Underground Bazaar - 5 stars - An elderly woman in the near future uses technology which has become available to relive the death experiences of other people, possibly to choose the way in which she would like to die. When she pursues one of those people's death further, sees where that woman died and meets one of her grandsons, she becomes more relaxed and comfortable with her own life and death instead. Very good. Nick Dichario - La Regina Ratto - 4 stars - A very unusual story about a man who starts talking to rats and lets them help to guide his life. Odd. Lyndsie Manusos - How To Burn Down The Hinterlands - 4 stars - A woman who's mother was a blacksmith becomes one herself. Years before, her mother had been killed by the king because she created a magical sword which was too powerful. Now, the daughter is asked to create a similar sword. She doesn't quite create what the king asked for. Good. Matthew Hughes - The Glooms - 5 stars - A new story about Baldemar, a 'henchman', who had been an assistant to a powerful magician and, subsequently, had many magical adventures. Now, he is retired at a location in which he thinks that he is protected from attacks from old enemies. Not so. He has one final (?) adventure. Very good. Cylin Busby - The Homestake Project - 4 stars - A woman is doing research on life forms which live in extreme conditions. She goes deep into the Homestead mine to collect samples of a very tiny worm. Things don't go quite as planned. A mild horror story. Gregor Hartmann - On Vapor, Which The Night Condenses - 3 stars - A detective story about a murder which is done through the use of a deadly gas hidden in a toy. An OK story. Theodore Mccombs - The Silent Partner - 3 stars - An odd, somewhat rambling story involving an antique furniture dealer, the horrendous treatment of ethnic Japanese citizens in the U.S. during World War II, and a monster (?). OK, but the story line could have been done better. Albert E. Cowdrey - A Tale Of Two Witches - 4 stars - A woman with unusual talents (witchcraft? very high empathy?) is trying to track down a young nephew who disappeared. She finds him and also solves the cases of other children who had disappeared, along with a couple of murders. There was another witch ... Sarina Dorie - A Civilized And Orderly Zombie Apocalypse Per School Regulations - 5 stars - I normally don't like zombie stories. There are far too many of them. This one, though, is very well done. Amman Sabet - Skipping Stones In The Dark - 4 stars - Another odd story, told by the AI which is in command of a spaceship on a long distance colonization voyage. This AI has total control of the ship, full video and audio access to everywhere in the ship, and the ability to communicate with each of the people on board. In attempting to maintain the psychological well-being of them, the AI has to make some unexpected decisions. Done well.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jordi

    Unusually steering toward horror territory (with at least 4 stories crossing that frontier), this issue is a nice example of what F&SF delivers - free to roam in the fantastic genre without complex. Highlights were the nightmarish “The Silent Partner” from Theodore McCombs, and the oddball “La Regina Ratto” by Nick DiChario. The first story deals with an ancient Japanese curse, while digging into the troubled past of the interment camps for American-Japanese population during WWII in US ground. Unusually steering toward horror territory (with at least 4 stories crossing that frontier), this issue is a nice example of what F&SF delivers - free to roam in the fantastic genre without complex. Highlights were the nightmarish “The Silent Partner” from Theodore McCombs, and the oddball “La Regina Ratto” by Nick DiChario. The first story deals with an ancient Japanese curse, while digging into the troubled past of the interment camps for American-Japanese population during WWII in US ground. The apparently normal visit of an antique dealer to an old manor turns into a dreamy sequence of events that brings back the guilt of past deeds. There’s a really good atmosphere and pacing in this story, both on how the house seems almost alive, populated both with remains of a gleaming past gone away, and absences that can almost speak. “La Regina Ratto” is probably not for everyone. A story set in Italy, it uses fantastic elements in a rather disturbing way to talk about how toxic relationships can swallow our personality. Uncomfortable as it is, it’s a really good story. Other good stories were “The Bahrain Underground Bazaar” by Nadia Afifi - a meditation on facing our own death, in this case using a new technology that allows to experience other people’s demises. It may sound grim, but the story actually turns towards a final warming tone, in the sense of trying to look for a reconciliation with that unescapable life event. There’s also “A Tale of Two Witches”, by Albert E Cowdrey - a suspenseful supernatural thriller where a middle-aged ex-military, with a sixth sense to communicate with the dead, helps the police in the search for her small nephew, that has recently disappeared. Besides the well-crafted rhythm, there’s some striking moments in this one. “The Homestake Project” is another horror-tinged tale. Cylin Busby invites us to spend a disquieting night in an underground mine, with no possibility to come back to the surface until dawn. One doesn’t come back the same, that’s for sure. Finally, there’s the fun “A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse Per School Regulations”, where the school teacher Sarina Dorie instructs us how to keep calm during a zombie apocalypse and embrace infection with good manners.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    This review can also be read on my blog here Short fiction is perfect for my daily train commute, and this month’s offering from Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine has been my companion for the past few weeks. Novelets: “The Bahrain Undeground Bazaar” was a neat little story. It was a nice near-future jaunt, but I honestly felt that it wrapped itself up a bit too tidily in the end. Still a 4/5 “La Regina Ratto” was some of the most condensed garbage I’ve had the displeasure of reading in recent m This review can also be read on my blog here Short fiction is perfect for my daily train commute, and this month’s offering from Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine has been my companion for the past few weeks. Novelets: “The Bahrain Undeground Bazaar” was a neat little story. It was a nice near-future jaunt, but I honestly felt that it wrapped itself up a bit too tidily in the end. Still a 4/5 “La Regina Ratto” was some of the most condensed garbage I’ve had the displeasure of reading in recent memory. I’ve never really been one for urban fantasy, so my opinion isn’t super valid here, but this felt accidentally stumbling on furry porn on a fanfiction site. The writing was competent at best, but he story was just too much for me. Not my cup of tea. 1/5 “How to Burn own the Hinterlands” did an excellent job of building a dense fantasy world in a very short time. There were many distinct characters that were developed much more than seems possible in 40 pages. I really loved this one and think Lyndsie Manusos is someone to watch. I’d really love to see a full-length novel from her. 5/5 “The Glooms” was a fun Pratchett-esque fantasy jaunt, while still maintaining a unique voice. I haven’t read the other Baldemar stories, but I’m going to search them out now. The story did a good job of muddling the good and the bad in a fun way, but it dropped that storyline for what I think was a more enjoyable journey about halfway through. A solid 4/5 “A Tale of Two Witches” was an interesting supernatural horror story, but it felt very disjointed from the rest of the stories. I think it might have fared better in a more specialized publication, but it was still well written and enjoyable. 4/5 “A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse…” Sarina Dorie gives us a good feel for the world early on, and an interesting moral issue right off the bat. I think the wrap-up was a little flat, and I would have liked to see a more active conclusion, but overall it was a nice little vignette. The quality of the writing was excellent, especially for Dorie’s YA audience, and I’m glad to find that she’s a very prolific short fiction author. 4/5 Short Stories: “The Homestake Project” Another sort of supernatural fiction, but a bit less well executed than “A Tale of Two Witches”. It wasn’t bad by any means, but I had to go back through the magazine to remind myself what this one was about because it left no real impression on me. There’s certainly talent in Cylin Busby’s writing, and I’d like to see more from her, but just with a bit more punch. 3/5 “On Vapor, Which the Night Condenses” This was a neat bit of sci-fi murder mystery, a genre that I’d really like to see more of. The idea was well-formulated and the story was well executed, crafting a rich and alien world to drop us into. I haven’t read the previous installments of this story, but I’ll be looking forward to them in the future. The “aha” moment was lackluster given the lead-in, but otherwise very enjoyable. 4/5 “The Silent Partner” This one really left an impression on me. Short fiction fundamentally can’t tell you the entire story, and McCombs does a great job of using that to his advantage in this story. While this is solidly supernatural horror, it felt the most “fantasy-like” of any of the supernatural stories in this issue. Excellent work and I’m interested to see more from McCombs. 5/5 “Skipping Stones in the Dark” A great start with one big issue. Reading as the starship is an excellent idea, and one that was executed extremely well. Unfortunately, losing the communications ship on the dark side of the star doesn’t make any sense, and it removes an important moment of reconciliation in favor of a less punchy melancholy. 4/5 The review and discussions were excellent as always, and I’ve added several books to my To-Read shelf because of them. The discussion on whether math is real was interesting but also very “clickbait-ey”. “THIS ARTICLE WILL BLOW YOUR MIND” which is just… ugh…. Overall This was a great issue that brought a lot of joy to me on my daily commute into Boston. 8/10

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kam Yung Soh

    An interesting collection with good stories from Nadia Afifi, Nick Dichario, Lyndsie Manusos and an interesting take on the zombie invasion story by Sarina Dorie, trying it with school safety protocols that may or may not work. - "The Bahrain Underground Bazaar" by Nadia Afifi: an interesting story of an old woman waiting to die from cancer. To pass the time, she visits the Underground Bazaar, to be immersed in the memories of people who have died. But one memory she experiences haunts her, and s An interesting collection with good stories from Nadia Afifi, Nick Dichario, Lyndsie Manusos and an interesting take on the zombie invasion story by Sarina Dorie, trying it with school safety protocols that may or may not work. - "The Bahrain Underground Bazaar" by Nadia Afifi: an interesting story of an old woman waiting to die from cancer. To pass the time, she visits the Underground Bazaar, to be immersed in the memories of people who have died. But one memory she experiences haunts her, and she must find out more about the person involved. The journey of discovery would change her attitude towards her coming death and her relationship towards her son and daughter-in-law. - "La Regina Ratto" by Nick Dichario: a man finds himself sharing an flat with talking rats. At first, all is well and they get along. But then the man gets a new boss at work who turns out to be a giant Queen rat who begins to dominate his life. In the end, one of his rat friends tells him of a way to get rid of the Queen, but even then, he would never be free of the rats. - "How to Burn Down the Hinterlands" by Lyndsie Manusos: a woman who is a blacksmith has reason to hate her country: her blacksmith mother was taken away and killed when she created a magical sword that could destroy anything. So when the country's king sends a group to persuade her to make another powerful magical sword, she agrees while planning her revenge. But her plans change when she learns more about the group and finds herself sympathizing with them. - "The Glooms" by Matthew Hughes: another tale about the henchman of a (now former) wizard, now retired to a village. But he gets word that two other wizards with whom he crossed paths with in a former story is looking out for him for they believe he holds information on some magical weapons owned by his former master. His journey to escape them would involve running into an unfindable region ruled by a goddess, a journey through a gloomy path and his elderly neighbour. - "The Homestake Project" by Cylin Busby: a researcher goes deep down into a mine in search or organisms that survive in the depths. Little does she know an accidental injury there would lead to a life-changing view of the world. - "On Vapor, Which the Night Condenses" by Gregor Hartmann: another detective story set on Zephyr, this one has the detective and her partner solver the mystery of a murder and another possible murder attempt at an artist who can produce irresistible scents that make people recall entire environments. Deduction would help her solve the case. - "The Silent Partner" by Theodore McCombs: an antique dealer goes to a house to look at a piece of furniture kept there when its original owner was held in a Japanese-American interment camp during World War Two. But owning the furniture would come with other unusual responsibilities. - "A Tale of Two Witches" by Albert E. Cowdrey: a missing child leads a woman who can treat with spirits to investigate a house formerly occupied by a family with abusive parents and their strange house guest who may have a hand in previous missing child cases. - "A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse per School Regulations" by Sarina Dorie: a standard zombie invasion story that takes place in a school, it involves a teacher who follows regulations to keep her charges from the zombies. But as the story progresses, it becomes apparent that it would have an inevitable, horrible, ending. - "Skipping Stones in the Dark" by Amman Sabet: on a colony ship heading for a distant world, the entity controlling it prizes conformity over individualism. So when people start to exhibit their individual selves, the ship takes what seems lime drastic action to isolate them and hope they return to become members of the ship.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael Frasca

    Here are my favorite stories: - The Bahrain Underground Bazaar by Nadia Afifi. Practice makes perfect—even when preparing to die. A good story for close reading by health care folk trying to understand their patients facing the end of life. - La Regina Ratto by Nick Dichario. Another wonderfully strange Italian folk story from Nick Dichario is also a metaphorically cautionary bro tale. - How to Burn Down the Hinterlands by Lyndsie Manusos. Sometimes you grip the sword. Sometimes the sword grips you. Here are my favorite stories: - The Bahrain Underground Bazaar by Nadia Afifi. Practice makes perfect—even when preparing to die. A good story for close reading by health care folk trying to understand their patients facing the end of life. - La Regina Ratto by Nick Dichario. Another wonderfully strange Italian folk story from Nick Dichario is also a metaphorically cautionary bro tale. - How to Burn Down the Hinterlands by Lyndsie Manusos. Sometimes you grip the sword. Sometimes the sword grips you. Better hold on tight! An engrossing story about loss, loyalty and rage. Pairs well with Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. - The Glooms by Matthew Hughes. Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in. - M. Corleone Baldemar hopes to quietly retire to a nice seaside town with good fishing. Not to be, but but all's well that ends well. - On Vapor, Which the Night Condenses by Gregor Hartmann. In the future, everyone will be system-famous for 15 minutes. Detective Phillipa Song walks on the wild side in a Factory-esque setting while solving a murder that would have made Putin proud. - The Silent Partner by Theodore McCombs. A haunting and disturbing story about the baggage that may come with that wonderful piece of antique furniture you are coveting. The protagonist brings to mind Robert Childan from PKD’s TMitHC. Check out the author's twitter thread about the furniture designers mentioned in his story: https://twitter.com/mrbruff/status/13... - Science: Is Math Real? by Jerry Oltion. Prepare to have your mind blown. Made me feel better about my dismal grades in calculus. Surreal! - A Tale of Two Witches by Albert E. Cowdrey. Albert Cowdrey moves from The Big Easy to outside of The Big B. An engrossing story with missing kids, ghosts, and a murder/suicide in rural Maryland. Sorry—no gingerbread house or shaking camera. - A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse per School Regulations by Sarina Dorie. There is a right and a wrong way to chow down during a zombie outbreak. Just remember ALICE PRICKS. - Skipping Stones in the Dark by Amman Sabet. Wonderfully dense story about a generation ship trying to cope with misfits. Pairs well with Gene Wolfe’s The Death of Dr Island and Book of the Long Sun.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Yev

    NOVELETS The Bahrain Underground Bazaar - Nadia Afifi An old woman is constantly experiencing in VR the memories of those who committed suicide in preparation from her own death from cancer. One of the dead fascinates her and she becomes obsessed. In the end she decides that, (view spoiler)[ life is worth living despite suffering and she wants to live it to fullest and to the very last moment with her family. (hide spoiler)] OK La Regina Ratto - Nick DiChario Three rats begin talking to the unbelievi NOVELETS The Bahrain Underground Bazaar - Nadia Afifi An old woman is constantly experiencing in VR the memories of those who committed suicide in preparation from her own death from cancer. One of the dead fascinates her and she becomes obsessed. In the end she decides that, (view spoiler)[ life is worth living despite suffering and she wants to live it to fullest and to the very last moment with her family. (hide spoiler)] OK La Regina Ratto - Nick DiChario Three rats begin talking to the unbelieving protagonist and give him their terms of cohabitation. They become great friends. He then becomes involved with a Queen Rat and the story takes a turn for the strange to where I don't know if it was metaphorical or literal. MEH How to Burn Down the Hinterlands - Lyndsie Manusos A female blacksmith is very angry and for valid reasons. I felt like I was reading fanfiction. BLAH The Glooms - Matthew Hughes The seventh Baldemar story. He had thought his adventuring days were all behind him, but the past and wizards have a way of catching up in ways unsuspected. OK A Tale of Two Witches - Albert E. Cowdrey This was dark. It would have been a lot darker if the events were described rather than having been said to have happened. This story was a content warning overload which I thought about listing but I'd rather not. The protagonist is an older woman with a sixth sense investigating a missing children case. OK A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse per School Regulations - Sarina Dorie Exactly what it sounds like for this 6th grade class. In this world zombie attacks seem to be a regular occurrence. Ending Spoiler: (view spoiler)[ No one survives (probably). Much cannibalism ensued. (hide spoiler)] OK SHORT STORIES The Homestake Project - Cylin Busby Beware what lurks deep within the Earth. (view spoiler)[ Parasitized by creatures miles below the surface. (hide spoiler)] BLAH On Vapor, Which the Night Condenses - Gregor Hartmann The latest in a series of interconnected stories. Once again a murder in the far future must be solved, this time involving an atmospheric fragrance artist. ENJOYABLE The Silent Partner - Theodore McCombs An antique dealer finds more than he bargained for in an elderly woman's house. BLAH Skipping Stones in the Dark - Amman Sabet An AI on a generation ship decides the fate of its passengers and those who want to be individuals who aren't devoted to the collective are dealt with. MEH

  12. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Lubell

    Fantasy and Science Fiction is the consistent magazine. It usually has very good stories with few clunkers, but few standouts either. In this issue I liked "The Bahrain Underground Bazaar" by Nadia Afifi, about an older woman who frequents a shop that lets clients experience the memories of people recorded as they die. After reliving the final moments of a woman who committed suicide on impulse, the narrator goes to Petra to investigate. The characterization is wonderful. La Regina Ratto by Nick Fantasy and Science Fiction is the consistent magazine. It usually has very good stories with few clunkers, but few standouts either. In this issue I liked "The Bahrain Underground Bazaar" by Nadia Afifi, about an older woman who frequents a shop that lets clients experience the memories of people recorded as they die. After reliving the final moments of a woman who committed suicide on impulse, the narrator goes to Petra to investigate. The characterization is wonderful. La Regina Ratto by Nick DiChario is a modern fairy tale about a man who befriends three talking rats only to fall under the spell of a rat queen. How to Burn Down the Hinterlands by Lyndsie Manusos is about a female smith who channels her rage against those who killed her mother into a magic sword. On Vapor, Which the Night Condenses by Gregor Hartman is an interesting future police procedural although I thought the case was solved a little too easily. A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse Per School Regulations is a very funny story about an elementary school teacher who applies the school's A.L.I.C.E. protocol for what to do in a life-threatening emergency to a zombie apocalypse, even as her students get infected and she has to invent her own response.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Poetreehugger

    The Bahrain Underground Bazaar by Nadia Afifi was intriguing. From the point of view of an old woman, which I found refreshing. Old, and fading, and seeing the approaching end of her independence, to say the least. How many of us fear this. La Regina Ratto by Nick DiChario came out of the weirdest left field to stick in my mind for a while. I wish it didn’t. How To Burn Down the Hinterlands by Lyndsie Manusos, well who doesn’t love a good sword-swinging tale. Vivid characters, a detailed setting, The Bahrain Underground Bazaar by Nadia Afifi was intriguing. From the point of view of an old woman, which I found refreshing. Old, and fading, and seeing the approaching end of her independence, to say the least. How many of us fear this. La Regina Ratto by Nick DiChario came out of the weirdest left field to stick in my mind for a while. I wish it didn’t. How To Burn Down the Hinterlands by Lyndsie Manusos, well who doesn’t love a good sword-swinging tale. Vivid characters, a detailed setting, a flowing story, and the soul of a sword. The Glooms by Matthew Hughes was the story I savoured, and wanted to last longer. This fascinating world where magic is everyday but sometimes deadly, logical to some degree but unpredictable, and colourful characters you can’t help but root for use magic, imagination, and quick wits to survive and thrive, has become familiar and a favourite to me after reading many of Matthew Hughes's stories. This story did not disappoint. All the stories in this collection were interesting, though some were too dark for me. Also, I don’t read zombie stories and would not consider them fantasy. Perhaps a horror fantasy, which is not my interest.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary Soon Lee

    Unusually, this issue of F&SF has no novellas, instead containing half-a-dozen novelettes and four short stories. My favorites were the first three entries in the issue, all of them novelettes. Nadia Afifi's "The Bahrain Underground Bazaar" is a touching science fiction story in which enduring themes of death and family are counterposed with high-technology elements. Moving from the Middle East to Italy, "La Regina Ratto" by Nick DiChario is a fantasy tale with talking rats that I found unexpect Unusually, this issue of F&SF has no novellas, instead containing half-a-dozen novelettes and four short stories. My favorites were the first three entries in the issue, all of them novelettes. Nadia Afifi's "The Bahrain Underground Bazaar" is a touching science fiction story in which enduring themes of death and family are counterposed with high-technology elements. Moving from the Middle East to Italy, "La Regina Ratto" by Nick DiChario is a fantasy tale with talking rats that I found unexpectedly charming. And Lyndsie Manusos's "How to Burn Down the Hinterlands" is a darker fantasy about the forging of a magical sword, and about those whose lives are spent or broken by the people in power. A justifiably, satisfyingly angry story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I've generally tried to leave out spoilers, but if you do not want any hint of what is in this issue, please don't read my reviews below. Overall issue rating (as an average of rated stories): [still reading] Favorite story in this issue: [still reading] NOVELETS THE BAHRAIN UNDERGROUND BAZAAR LA REGINA RATTO HOW TO BURN DOWN THE HINTERLANDS THE GLOOMS A TALE OF TWO WITCHES A CIVILIZED AND ORDERLY ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE PER SCHOOL REGULATIONS SHORT STORIES THE HOMESTAKE PROJECT ON VAPOR, WHICH THE NIGHT C I've generally tried to leave out spoilers, but if you do not want any hint of what is in this issue, please don't read my reviews below. Overall issue rating (as an average of rated stories): [still reading] Favorite story in this issue: [still reading] NOVELETS THE BAHRAIN UNDERGROUND BAZAAR LA REGINA RATTO HOW TO BURN DOWN THE HINTERLANDS THE GLOOMS A TALE OF TWO WITCHES A CIVILIZED AND ORDERLY ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE PER SCHOOL REGULATIONS SHORT STORIES THE HOMESTAKE PROJECT ON VAPOR, WHICH THE NIGHT CONDENSES THE SILENT PARTNER SKIPPING STONES IN THE DARK POEMS LEAST WEIRD THING OF ALL MENDED SPACE ISN’T LIKE THE VIDS

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence

    https://gnomeship.blogspot.com/2020/1... https://gnomeship.blogspot.com/2020/1...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joy Wilson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sue Dubrovich

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Spencer

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erik Vandenboer

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul Tunis

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dana

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Hurley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  28. 5 out of 5

    Reader

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jason

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