A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a post offering a free copy of the July issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction to the first 50 people who email in and promise to blog about the issue. I'll do just about anything for free stuff, so I sent off an email and was fortunate enough to be among those chosen. So now I'm holding up my end of the bargain and blogging about it.
When I was a kid my mom had a Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction t-shirt, which I appropriated in junior high. At that time, my reading tastes ran almost exclusively to the fantasy/sci fi genre, and when left to my own devices I still lean in that direction by default. Getting me to read an issue wasn't exactly twisting my arm here. I always forget how much I enjoy short stories, as well.
First off, I'll say that I'm not much of a critic. You'll not find a lot of expository analysis of plot development, deconstructionist musings, and that sort of thing. I read for enjoyment, not to think too much about the writing style. I either like it or I don't, and sometimes I can't really give a very solid reason behind my preference. It's getting kind of late, and I don't want to feel like this is homework or anything, so I'll just mention the stories I particularly liked.
One of the best things about short stories is that when written well, they can really fire up your imagination and make you think. Holding Pattern, by Stephen Popkes, does just that. It gives a very interesting and intriguing snapshot of a future where political prisoners are on house arrest enforced by little robot cameras, and said political prisoner is one of seven copies of the real nefarious dictator. None of the copies know who is the real one. You can easily read this story multiple times and still come away with something to think about.
The main novella was entitled The Lineaments of Gratified Desire by Ysabeau S. Wilce. This is a particularly interesting story that to me evokes an element of faerie in the mood and setting. The best part about the story, however, is the prose, which begs to be read aloud. I'm still deciding whether I actually enjoyed the plot, I liked many of the characters (particularly Tiny Doom and Pig), but the language is just a joy to read.
My favorite story was Memory of a Thing that Never Was by Jerry Seeger. This is his first published story, and I definitely enjoyed it. It has a sort of Men in Black flavor, but a little darker and there are some definite hints of things in the background that make you want to know more. I could read this multiple times, and I'd definitely be interested in some more of Seeger's offerings.
I also very much enjoyed Heather Lindsley's Just Do It. It's a pretty funny story, but, kind of like the advertising in Minority Report, gives you a little chill thinking that it really COULD happen in our capitalist society. Are we really so far away from implanted, irresistable cravings? Freaky.