Review: Feb. 2008 Fantasy and Science Fiction

Fantasy and Science Fiction has produced an incredibly strong Feb. 2008 issue which features an array of high quality stories such as "Retrospect" by Ann Miller and "If Angels Fight" by Richard Bowes (whose "There's a Hole in the City" won the 2006 Million Writers Award). My favorite story in the issue is "Balancing Account" by James L. Cambias. This old-fashioned-yet-new-feeling hard science fiction story focuses on an intelligent rocket booster named Orphan Annie in the Saturn planetary system. If you think it's difficult for writers to create a human being with whom readers can relate, try doing the same with a machine. Cambias not only pulls this off, his fast-paced tale will have you rooting against Annie's human overlords. Highly recommended.

Another good read is "Memoirs of the Witch Queen" by Ron Goulart, in which a ghost-writer works with a real witch on her memoirs. You can tell Goulart had a blast writing this story and it left me wondering how many of the ghost-writer's foils--a greedy ex-wife, idiotic editor, assorted debt-collectors--are real. Considering that Goulart is rumored to have ghost-written William Shatner's TekWar series, I also wonder if the overbearing and overweight witch isn't based on a certain actor. I should add, though, that while I enjoyed this story, it isn't equal to Goulart's best and feels forced at times. I much preferred his recent "Conversations with My Knees" from the Jan./Feb. 2008 Analog.