The cover to this one is by Bob Eggleton. It features a dragon in flight.
A rundown of this issue's nonfiction is as follows:
The Folkroots column is by Terri Windling, which discusses the transformation of Beauty and the Beast folk tales. In adult book reviews, Gahan Wilson covers Street by Jack Cady, Throat Sprockets by Tim Lucas, The Hastur Cycle, Mysteries of the Worm, and The Shrub Niggurath Cycle, all edited by Robert M. Price, and Cthulu's Heirs, edited by Thomas M.K. Stratman. In the Television column, Dan Person discusses Chris Carter's The X-Files. Nigel Suckling handles the Artist Gallery, covering the work of J.K. Potter, including an introduction to the artist's work by Stephen King. And in the Games column, M.C. Sumner covers the PC game Master of Magic, TSR's AD&D Player Pack Survival Kits, and the video game Dragon's Lair, available on PC CD-ROM, 3DO, and Sega CD.
On to the fiction ...
The lead story in "The Story Told By Smoke" by Tanith Lee, one of Journals of St. Strange Tales. Art is by Mary O'Keefe Young, which marks her third illustration in the magazine. This is a story about a domineering man who spits in the face of tradition, causing the city he lives in untold suffering for many years.
Next up is "The Chapter of Bringing a Boat into Heaven" by Noreen Doyle. Art is by Ken Graning, which marks his second illustration in the magazine. This story marks Noreen's first publication. It is a piece of Egyptian mythology about a young boy who draws upon the powers of the gods to sail a boat into the heavens.
Then we have "The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep" by Charles de Lint. Art is by Carol Heyer, which marks her second appearance in the magazine. This one is another reprint, coming from a Datlow/Windling anthology. Like Neil Gaiman's reprint in issue 1, this story was basically an urban fairy tale, about a woman who must unravel the riddle of the drowning moon in her dreams. It's also worth noting that when the story was originally published, it was nominated for the 1994 World Fantasy Award for Best Short fiction.
Next up is "The Year of Storms" by Judith Berman, with art by Web Bryant. Like Noreen's story, this one marks Judith's first publication. I think it's important to note that this story and Noreen's represent the first stories pubished in RoF by unpublished. This in itself is rather important, because it demonstrated early on that RoF was open to publishing new talent. As to the story itself, I was rather impressed with this piece as a first publication, especially considering it's the sort of fantasy I tend to gravitate toward. In this piece, a pair of revered twins must figure out why the revered salmon have stopped coming to the land, and they must figure it out before everyone starves.
Following this we have "The Last Waltz" by Richard Parks, with art by Paul Salmon. I'd like to note that this is Richard's first appearance in the magazine. I note this because at this time Richard has appeared in RoF more than any other author. It's also interesting to note that this issue feature's Tanith Lee's first appearance in RoF, because after Richard she is the magazine's most published author. As to the story, this one is a piece about Death. Only Death has grown tired from his work, so he takes the time to "live a little."
Finally we have "Mission: Rescue Merlin!" by S.N. Dyer, with art by Annie Lunsford. This one is a lighthearded piece of Arthuriana about the media circus that ensues when the stone is removed from Merlin's cave and he is rescued in modern times. It's a nice enough story, but I had trouble connecting with it. This has nothing to do with the story or the author's skills, both of which are solid. But I prefer Arthurian tales of a more serious nature than the story in question. It's a personal reader tic.
So that wraps up this issue. And my favorite story? "The Year of Storms" by Judith Berman. And my favorite artwork? Carol Heyer's illustration to "The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep." I'm still tracking down some rogue issues in an effort to complete my collection, so it looks like next time around I'll be discussing issue 5. Until then ...