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January 7th, 2008 - The Elephant Forgets

 Summary: Challenging Destiny, 2007

Challenging Destiny is available electronically through Fictionwise, in various formats. It is a Canadian magazine, edited by David M. Switzer, and it has appeared twice yearly for some time. 2007 saw issues #24 and #25. (#25, though dated December 2007, actually only snuck out in January 2008, but for tidiness' sake I have included it with the 2007 totals.) There were 14 stories, four of them novelettes, for a total of about 85,000 words, with one reprint, so about 80,000 words of new fiction. The editor is Dave Switzer.

Alas, Dave has decided to put Challenging Destiny on hiatus for a while, leaving open the possibility that it might return after a year or more. (Even perhaps return to print!) Dave has done a great job with this 'zine for many years -- he's one of the unsung heroes of the field -- and I hope he can bring the magazine back.

One first rate novelette appeared in #24, Harvey Welles and Philip Raines's "Abigail and Chang". It's set in a future where most people constantly "jaunt" -- and thus are never "home" anywhere, and Abigail is an older woman who reluctantly strikes up a relationship with a jaunter (Chang) despite her resentment over losing her son to jaunting. From #25 I really enjoyed a rather traditional story -- but very well done -- by Marcelle Dubé: "Jhyoti". The heroine is a low-caste woman trying to make it in the Academy. Doing some research, she finds evidence of terrible abuse and murder of a low-caste woman by a higher-caste person -- can she risk her career, and disappoint her patrons, by investigating this? There are no surprises here, but it was quite satisfying. Also in #25, James Wesley Rogers's "Correction 13" has a very nice central idea (if we engineer out things like the ability to believe in God, what else might we lose?), and an engaging central character (a teen who acts altruistically even though he shouldn't be able to), but it doesn't really work as a story. Still, I liked it. I though both the Dubé and Rogers stories would have fit in Astounding in the 1950s (at least as to the central ideas) -- but that needn't be a drawback. Other nice stories came from A. R. Morlan, Jennifer Rachel Baumer, and Andrea McDowell.

The writers are split evenly between men and women, 7 each. (In 2006, the numbers were identical.) 10 of 14 stories, 71%, were SF: the magazine has generally been primarily science fictional.

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