NOTE: I received a free copy of the new issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction in exchange for blogging my review.

There were two stories in this issue I loved: “Maxwell’s Demon” and “The Color Least Used by Nature.” Beautiful stories, delightful language and both haunted me long after I read them.

Below are my thoughts on each story. I don’t post overviews because I don’t want to give away the plot. I like to let the writer reveal the plot as s/he feels necessary for their story. That’s one of the joys of reading – discovering the plot as it unfolds.

“Small Towns” by Felicity Shoulders

I enjoyed this story a lot. I loved meeting the two main characters and imagining how they would come together was a lot of fun. However, the ending felt strange to me. It wasn’t as believable as I wanted it to be, but otherwise a really great story.

“The Comfort of Strangers” by Alexander Jablokov

This one was a lot of fun. I loved the originality of the premise. However, I wanted a driving goal for our main character, but she didn’t seem to have one. It was a series of events, wrapped up with a sufficient ending, but the drive wasn’t there for me. What did she want? How did she change over the course of the story?

“The Secret of the City of Gold” by Ron Goulart

A hard-boiled detective story with a fantastical edge. I’m not a huge mystery fan, and this story was fun, but not my cup of tea. It was well written and entertaining, but not terribly original.

“Maxwell’s Demon” by Ken Liu

My favorite of the bunch. I sympathized with Takako and went on the journey with her. The story was fascinating, the language was beautiful, and the ending left me wanting more. An engaging read with a great MC. Love, love, love.

“Scrap Dragon” by Naomi Kritzer

I really enjoyed the way this story was told, as if the reader was arguing with the writer on the direction of the plot. It brought me into the story, made me laugh, and I left like I was part of its creation.

“Umbrella Men” by John G. McDaid

I enjoyed this one. The idea was interesting and the writing kept me engaged. I found the beginning a little confusing, trying to figure out who was who, but in the end I thought it was entertaining.

“In the Trenches” by Michael Alexander

I felt the pain of war and the dreary tedium of living three years under the “booms.” I liked the kobold angle, but at times this one felt a little preachy to me. Still a great story.

“Alien Land” by K. D. Wentworth

A hilarious take on alien invasion. I loved the premise of this story and the bored housewives whose revulsion at the new neighbors turned to delight. A joy to read.

“Canto MCML” by Lewis Shiner

I liked this one, but I wanted more explanation. It was very short and it only touched the surface of what the story was about. I felt like an outsider, removed from the story and only privy to certain bits of information. I felt excluded from what was really happening.

“Mindbender” by Albert E. Cowdrey

This one was good fun. I enjoyed how the paths between the characters came together in the end. The characters were believable and their actions, while irritating at times, were on point. It was an entertaining story.

“The Color Least Used by Nature” by Ted Kosmatka

I also loved this story. I’ve been to Kauai’i twice, and the descriptions of the island and the ocean coincided greatly with my wonderful memories. It felt real and believable, and at times, I cried. Beautiful story and lush imagery. Very well done.

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