Since I enjoyed reading the last issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction so much, I decided to get the next issue as well. This is the issue from Jan/Feb of this year, so I'm not sure if it's still available in stores, but you can certainly find in on Amazon and on the magazine's website.
Like the previous issue, the Jan/Feb magazine contained plenty of brilliant and engaging stories, each as different in tone as the authors themselves. The issue is themed around the planet Mars, and the first three stories are set there, yet each of them has such a unique vision of the planet it hardly seems to be the same place each time. Gregory Benford's "Vortex," which opens the 'zine, is my favorite of these. The author's conception of the Marsmat, a completely alien, possibly intelligent life-form, intrigued me completely. On the other hand, Mary Robinette Kowal's "Rockets Red," also set on Mars, is a sweet, heart-warming tale of community and teamwork. The last Mars tale, Alex Irvine's "Number Nine Moon," is more of a survival story set during the evacuation of the first and last human colony on the red planet.
The rest of the stories in the magazine were quite good as well, with a few that stand out as exceptional. Albert Cowdry's haunting and creepy tale "The Visionaries" stayed with me more than some of the others. If the first couple of paragraphs didn't initially grab me, Cowdry certainly built up tension from there, until the final horrifying reveal. What's more, his characters are lovable and fascinating, down-to-earth Jim and sensitive Morrie playing off each other in great ways. Their gentle conflict, as well as Cowdry's subtle references to current political events, make the story feel real, which deepens its frightening, unsettling finale. Likewise, E. Lily Yu's "Braid of Days and Wake of Nights" alternates between brutal reality and a surreal, lovely vision of an alternative world. Its ending was as ambiguous as it was heart-rending. I loved it so much, I wonder if it won't get nominated for a Nebula award this year.
Overall, I'd highly recommend The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction to anyone who loves, well, fantasy and science fiction. I've enjoyed the stories in it so much I'm considering getting a subscription, which is more affordable than buying it in Barnes and Noble every couple of months. One last thing--I loved the science article "Welcome to Pleistocene Park," which contained such fantastic and interesting ideas about ecology and woolly Mammoths I've been mulling it over ever since.