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F&SF MiniReview: Four Pack

I found Two Weeks After, by M. Ramsey Chapman, to be an entertaining and a little humorous ghost story. The story revolves around two victims of a car crash, Jack, a taxi driver, and April, his passenger at the time of the wreck. The two get a chance to interact with/haunt their spouses one last time before moving into the afterlife.

What really sold me on this piece was the way it thrived on misdirecting the reader. Definitely recommended.

Fragrant Goddess, by Paul Park, was probably the darkest piece in this issue. It follows Jeremy, an academic obsessed with an purported alchemist and his storied healing balms, and Sabine, a former (or maybe almost) lover. The majority of the story is spent within Jeremy’s head. He spends a great deal of time thinking about his love/lust for Sabine, and her connection with the “Fragrant Goddess”, the most powerful healing balm (n)ever made. At some point in the story, Jeremy essentially cracks; his obsession takes over, with the expected dark consequences.

This story wasn’t bad, but it had a very different feel from the rest of the issue.

In Unpossible, by Daryl Gregory, a middle aged man crashes his way into the world of his childhood dreams. He reaches his dreams only to realize why he lost them, why he can’t get them back, and what he needs to do.

I enjoyed the imagery in this story; especially that of the initial harrowing car ride.

Urdumheim, by Michael Swanwick, is an interesting Creation Myth that follows a pantheon that name drops the Sumerians quite heavily. The story centers on the civilization created by a group of gods who escaped from slavery. The former masters, a race of infinitely diverse talking animals (big, scary critters) who consume words for sustenance, come back. Fighting ensues.

It may sound odd, but this story seems to have too much humanity to be a creation myth. This piece doesn’t sit well with me. It seems like it is missing something. A more eloquent reviewer might know what that is.

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