Let’s start with Blue Eyed Devils by Robert Parker. This is the most recent and alas, last installment that we will get about Everett Hitch and his partner Virgil Cole. It has been a long time since I have so enjoyed a Western novel, and I am sure I will re-read the books and more than once. Parker was best known for detective stories that featured Spenser. His death is still recent and I am still mourning that there are now definitely a finite number of Robert Parker books for me to find and devour. The Virgil and Everett story is one that I highly recommend; start with Appaloosa.
I am midway through Hard Eight, by Janet Evanovich. This is the eighth installment in the Stephanie Plum books, and I am still enjoying her New Jersey bounty hunter! These books not only make me laugh out loud, they are my best resource for calming those middle of the night anxiety attacks that occasionally plague me. Give up trying to sleep, turn on the light, pick up the book and leave my own reality for a time. I am very much enjoying this series and recommend them.
My first forays into reading SF came as a result of my mom bringing home digest sized magazines from the second hand store. I think it was probably her first experience, too, but it quickly led us both into a paperback habit that neither of us ever shook. In the final years of her life, we shared all sorts of SF and fantasy, from Cook’s Black Company books to Gaiman and Pratchett’s Good Omens. Half my pleasure in discovering a new author or great book was looking forward to passing it on to my Mom. It’s something I still miss.
But the SF magazine habit is still with me, expanded now to include the fantasy that often graces those pages. My enduring favorites, through several editorships, are The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. They come, and I read. I’ve always felt that shorter works are some of our brightest gems in SF and fantasy in that everything excess is sheared away and what is left is pure story telling. The magazines are also where I have first experienced writers who went on to become favorites with me for their novels. It’s a great way to sample writers. And I’ve always enjoyed the magazines as my companions when waiting at the doctor’s office or during soccer practice. Sometimes I just want a whole story that I can read in less than an hour.
From the May/June edition of Fantasy and SF, I’ll call your attention to “Seven Sins for Seven Dwarves” by Hilary Goldstein and “The Gypsy’s Boy” by Lokiko Hall. And “Forever” by Rachel Pollack. And in Asimov’s, September 2010 (yes, the editors have developed time travel to whisk us to stories for months that haven’t happened yet!), I very much enjoyed “For Want Of A Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal.
Does that mean I didn’t enjoy the other stories? No, only that those are the ones I devoured most recently. If your fantasy and SF reading has been limited to full length books, then perhaps you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Poe may have invented the American short story, but these magazines are certainly letting it evolve in a time when short fiction has disappeared from so many other magazines.