For some time I’ve been saying I wanted to read more short fiction. Years ago I used to regularly read the stories in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and more; but not lately. I still subscribe a number of SF magazines.
The cover story for the January 2006 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction is "Planet of Mystery" by Terry Bisson, a pulp fiction planetary romance. The cover art is by Max Bertolini. In "Planet of Mystery" a space mission to the planet Venus improbably discovers a cool surface and breathable air on Venus, plus amazon women riding centaurs. Later a sentient robot and a flying saucer are encountered. It’s frequently ridiculous, lightweight entertainment. Sort of dumb fun. The second half of this novella is in the February 2006 F&SF issue.
The magazine contains two novelettes, both of which were good. "Less than Nothing" by Robert Reed is part of a series of stories about Native American boy Raven. This is fantasy intersecting with today's world. "The Boy in Zaquitos" by Bruce McAllister concerns a CIA operative secretly spreading plague in South America in the 1960s. It read as scarily too real.
Of the four short stories, my favorite was "Horse-Year Women" by Michaela Roessner. It’s an emotional modern story entwined with tales of women born in the Oriental Year of the Horse. My least favorite story was the "Shadow Man" by Matthew Hughes due to its creepy horror elements. "A Daze in the Life" by Tony Sarowitz is a near future science fiction story about hiring out brain processing power. In fairy tale "Journey to Gantica" by Matthew Corradi a woman grows as tall as a giant and shrinks to miniature size.
“The Great Speck” (Excerpt)
24 minutes ago