The Beast from Below by William Ledbetter, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, Mar/Apr 2018

F&SF has a long history of adventure stories. Most genre mags include at least one in each issue because they are just pure fun. There’s little ambiguity and there’s no doubt of what happened at the end. Their escapist and there’s nothing wrong with escapist literature.

In this story we learn that an adventure can happen in your back yard, all you need is some serious radiactive material, like found near the test site of the 1950s bomb tests.

The narrator of this story is a likable sheriff in a small midwest town. Something has happened to a family on the outskirts and he’s been called in to check it out. The mayor is also there. She’s a small lady in her middle years with a pixie cut that the sheriff has the hots for. Oh, he makes an awkward move, but nothing is resolved.

The house of the family who has dissapeared is in shambles and there’s a big tunnel going into the ground–and it looks as though it’s been dug by a large animal. See where the adventure comes in? While the narrator wants to keep people safe, which likely means killing the poor giant monster, the mayor wants to capture it and use it as a tourist attraction. I won’t give away what happens, but the very ending has a nice little twist that feels earned, that’s for sure.

This is a solid piece, though brings nothing peticularly knew to the genre. (C)