Review – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction May/June 2018

fsf mj 2018

Full disclosure: On twitter, F&SF offered a free copy in exchange for a review. I was lucky enough to get in on this action and have a bit about each story after the break.

As expected from one of the flagship markets for short and novelette-length speculative fiction, the volume is great. The pieces span from high fantasy to space opera, and skip through magical realism and surrealism along the way past a fairy tale. The tone varies from the serious contemplation of an aspect of race relations to the more fun-loving romp through a more traditional high fantasy setting.

Picking stories that stood out from the crowd has less to do with quality and more to do with my subjective taste, maybe even my subjective taste at the moment I read each. “The Barrens” was a tense spin on a classic horror archetype that kept me turning the page (maybe I was due for a tense tale). “Argent and Sable” was high fantasy at its most fun (maybe I was due for a taste of childhood nostalgia). “Unstoppable” was a brilliantly rendered fairy tale (maybe I’m envious of being able to perfectly land the “fairy tale voice”… okay I am envious of that, but it’s still a great story).

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Review – “Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim

I’m late on reading this, and I’m not sharing any revlatory information when I recommend “Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim (it’s a finalist for the 2017 Nebula Awards for Best Short Story and the 2018 Hugo Awards for Best Short Story), but whatever you’re doing, stop and read it. I make no voting recommendation her, but if it wins those awards, it will be incredibly deserving.

Yoachim uses the ostensible story about wind-up toys with a finite amount of “turns” each day to do all the activities of life to reflect on aging, family, responsibilities, and how one measure’s the worth of their life. I’m finding it hard hard to go into too much detail without potentially relieving the impact of the story, which is incredibly poignant and impactful.

I find the short fiction I enjoy the most lingers on the mind long after I’m done reading it. I know that “Carnival Nine” will haunt me with its beauty and its message for a long time.

I’m copying a piece of one of of the most beautiful paragraphs of prose I’ve read in recent memory after the jump to hide potential spoilers. Absolutely masterful.

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