As well as the usual book and film reviews (featuring an interview with Chris Beckett as well as a review of his book Dark Eden) the SFF magazine has an R.I.P. section which this time notes the passing of John Christopher, author of the 1953 disaster novel The Death of Grass (among various other SF works), a title I recall from long ago.
A reversion to shorter stories this time, with six included:
Twember by Steve Rasnic Tem, illustrated by David Senecal. A near future in which strange cliff-like apparitions rise up, move across the landscape and disappear, leaving little physical trace of their passage but causing major disruptions to the lives of the inhabitants.
Lips and Teeth by Jon Wallace, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A long-term prisoner in a despotic state is recruited to use his unique power - but can he use it to help himself?
Tangerine, Nectarine, Clementine, Apocalypse by Suzanne Palmer, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A fruiterer in a society confined within a space station has the ability to see the future - and which fruit he gives out has a meaning. But there is one fruit which he never gives.
Bound in Place by Jacob A. Boyd, illustrated by Ben Baldwin. Ghosts can be made to do all of the housework, provided you have the manual of instructions.
Railriders by Matthew Cook, illustrated by Warwick Fraser-Coombe. A downbeat tale of people on the fringes of society who steal rides on interstellar craft.
One-Way Ticket by Nigel Brown, illustrated by Mark Pexton. An alien world provides a chance of a strange kind of survival for the terminally ill.
I was very critical of the previous issue for publishing stories which were all relentlessly grim and downbeat. This time they are thankfully more varied. Railriders is the grimmest, and only superficially SF - it could have been written about hoboes of a century ago. My favourite is Twember - I like this surreal kind of tale.
Once Upon a Time is a US TV fantasy series which has just started being shown on UK TV (Channel 5 on Sundays, for anyone interested). As a result of an evil spell from a wicked queen, characters from fairy tales are transported to a hellish place where there are no happy endings: the present-day USA! They now look like normal people and have no memory of who they once were, but one very modern woman unknowingly seems to be destined to save them. An intriguing premise, and the first episode was promising. I not only watched all of it (more than I can say for any of the other US TV fantasy series I've tried to watch in recent years) but I'm even looking forward to the next episode. I'll keep you posted.