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Return to F&SF

I reached a point earlier this year where I just couldn't contemplate reading all the issues of F&SF and Asimov's I had crammed into a drawer and on top of my nightstand. I wanted to but I was well over a year behind on both magazines and my quest to read 52 books last year meant I wouldn't have much time to catch up. So, I gave the whole lot to a friend and knew they were going to a good home. After that point, I got some more issues while my subscriptions were still active and just kept them...for no particular reason. When I finished that 52nd book a few weeks back, however, I wanted something a little different and decided to pick up the oldest issue of F&SF I had on the shelf. I enjoyed diving back in so much that I went out and bought the latest issue off the stands. Anyway, here are some brief thoughts on the May/June 2012 issue...

It starts with "Liberty's Daughter" by Naomi Kritzer, who is not a writer I was familiar with. The story takes place in a future where people have left the U.S. for man-made islands in the Pacific and goods are sometimes scarce. Beck Garrison is a teenager and takes a job where she searches for things that people might have and would be willing to trade for things others have that they might want - a barter system of sorts. She ends up looking for a bonded laborer (basically an indentured servant) and gets a look at the underbelly of the economy. Kritzer gives a satisfying end of the story, a bit of background of this future, and a compelling character in the form of Beck. Luckily, the issue I just bought has a second story in this series and I'm eager to read it.

Albert E. Cowdrey gives another solid story in "Asylum" and Fred Chappell a longer story set in his world of Shadows with "Maze of Shadows." I enjoyed Pat McEwew's exploration of a woman traveling through a wormhole to try to find her identity in "Taking the Low Road" and Dale Bailey's short horror story "Necrosis." Paul Di Filippo had some nice satire about copyright law with this installment of "Plumage From Pegasus" and Matthew Corradi's look at the unreliability of memory and the father/son bond in "City League."

I really enjoyed "Typhoid Jack" by Andy Stewart. It's set in a world where the city turned control over to AIs in order to save itself but the citizens don't always like the decisions being made. The hook is that sickness has been eliminated, which leaves an underground for viruses. It's a good hook and the story deals with personal responsibility and the idea of choice.

Chris Willrich's "Grand Tour" is a solid look at that age-old idea of a person needing to go out and have their own experience in the wider world as they become an adult. I wouldn't mind another story set in the world.

The final story is also quite interesting. Michael Alexander uses a lot of vernacular in "The Children's Crusade," a vernacular that is completely part of the world he has constructed. The reader is left to begin to piece it together, which echoes that state that the boy Will finds himself in when a stranger comes into town. Peter knows more than anyone in the town, which ends up ruffling feathers. The story builds to revelations about just what is happening and it all works quite well.

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