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F&SF, July 2008

Seeing the notice about the current F&SF blogging promo set me thinking that this would be a good chance to try my hand at a review -- so, here we are!

The Fiction -- 

Please note: possible spoilers included!  When I review, I do occassionally reference parts of the story for example. 

FULLBRIM’S FINDING by Matthew Hughes
The character in this story is from an ongoing series by the author, blurbed as hanging out lately in novels. He has been around for a while, and as such his universe no doubt has been more fully described in depth elsewhere. However, this is the first time I read a Henghis Hapthorn adventure, and to me it suffered for this reason.  Not much of this universe is explored, and by the hints given in the story I would have loved to see more. Another thing that distracted me was the prose. It is a well-written piece, but it seems that the author seeks a literary style, and while the command of language is excellent, what it did for me was to make the entire feel of the read mono-emotional. From the description to the dialog, it was same and unremarkable, and I am afraid that if next month someone asked me about the story about the dude with the odd computer information system advisor looking for someone and finding God’s helper stuck in rock, well, I’d have to say, huh? Oh wait, that guy in the rock sounds familiar….

If I gave ratings, say on a 5-star scale, this would barely hit 3.

READER’S GUIDE by Lisa Goldstein
When I first began this story I had to say, Whaaa..? This came solely because the author wrote this in a question – comment style. Once I got into the swing of that I really got into the story. In here the author takes on an idea that could seem to be cliché, dealing with the writing muse. However, the author treats it rather differently, and I can say that reading this will resonate at different levels with the reader, particularly if the reader also writes. I have to admit that I will remember this story long after I forget the other tales in this issue.

I found this story easy to read, entertaining, and by the end deep but not preachy. Nice read. 4.5 of 5 stars, if we go back to the star system, and highly recommended.

THE ROBERTS by Michael Blumlein
This was the story inspiring the cover illustration, and in this one there is no lack of visualization. It is a well written piece, and to me deals with relationships, both in life and professionally. However, it seems to have been influenced by old movie ideas – for me, as an older reader/viewer, this story lost some when I related the replication of self to an old Keaton flick. Still, it was a decent read.

4 of 5 stars for this one.

ENFANT TERRIBLE by Scott Dalrymple
This one was the shortest I believe in the issue, and for me, the fact that it was written in the second person, present tense narration was distracting. Also, the plot and the boosted human theme could well have been fleshed out some – it is essentially a “superhero amongst us” sort of tale, but with the enhancement created by some parasite. This wasn’t dealt with as thoroughly as I would have liked to have seen, since I rather enjoy this type of tale. I would have been more into it if the author would have written it in a normal narration style.

3.5 stars here. Although interesting, this could be more substantial.

POISON VICTORY by Albert E. Cowdrey
I love parallel universe adventures, and to a lesser level alternate history stories as well. I also like reading good takes of era’s/decision moments that most would now consider a trope. But there are a few that I really am not drawn into. This includes anything WWII involving Hitler. It is rather overplayed, and although I cannot for a second fault the writing, this time the subject just didn’t draw me in. I would have rather read that Luxembourg won WWI with some secret steampunk techno than this.

3 stars here. Can’t fault the thought put into and the writing quality of this.

THE DINOSAUR TRAIN by James L. Cambias
The color here comes from an assumption that there’s an island, now protected, but once open where dinosaurs still live, and could once be taken for study or for something else. Here we have a story that brought to mind the recent remake of King Kong, but here with a parade of dinosaurs for the show instead of an gorilla. And while this is the color of the story, the real story explored in here is about change, and resisting change with suspicion. It is a pretty decent story, but I felt it could have used a bit more substance. 3.5 of those sad little 5 stars. 

The Non-fiction:  

I jump to the entertainment, so there's not too much for me to say on this.  
The Humor:

Two comics included.  Both are "Huh?" at best.  Ah, but for the glory days of Gahan Wilson's entertaining humor!