Post-Apocalyptic Bake Sales And A Pornographic Multiverse, In February F&SF

The latest Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction features stories from two of their most interesting contributors. And they're serving up political, trippy and unsettling tales.

I've already praised the stories of Eugene Mirabelli and Charles Coleman Finlay in the past, and they both have pieces in the new F&SF.

Finlay's piece, "The Texas Bake Sale," is another one of his bleak political stories, along the lines of "The Political Prisoner." This time, it's a vaguely post-apocalyptic future where the United States has fallen apart and a troupe of U.S. Marines tries to carry on the old ways. The way they do this is actually pretty surprising and demented — at first you think the "cookies" they keep talking about are a metaphor for some kind of advanced weaponry, and then you realize they're actually cookies. The story has some twists, because nothing can ever go entirely according to plan in a post-apocalyptic military situation, but it also has some weird revelations about the nature of this collapsed U.S. future that may remind you a bit of Battlestar Galactica.

Mirabelli's story, "Catalog," isn't quite as exquisitely crafted as "The Only Known Jump Across Space-Time," which we reviewed a while back. But it's trippy, and demented, and kind of unsettling. A guy jumps across the multiverse, into a weird alternate reality where people from pornographic magazines, L.L. Bean catalogs and classic novels all wander around, and love and dissociation are in the air. It feels like a weird kind of wish-fulfillment, but it's just disturbing enough to work.

The issue also includes a reprint of the novella "The Night We Buried Road Dog" by truck-driving author Jack Cady, and a cover by weird artist Kent Bash. Well worth picking up a copy.