Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Asimov's Science Fiction October-November 2009

Fairly good issue, nowhere as excellent as the September issue, but pretty good.

Blood Dauber • novelette by Michael Poore and Ted Kosmatka
A poor zookeeper is working on a poor zoo. He has a lot of personal troubles with his wife, and a chronic shortage of money. He finds a strange looking insect which he doesn't recognize, and puts it in a terrarium and has more than a few surprises while watching it grow and reproduce. He also befriends a strange man who is working on community service for the zoo. Well written story, fairly low in science fiction and main emphasis is on "normal" drama. ***1/2
Where the Time Goes • shortstory by Heather Lindsley
A team travels in time and captures people's surplus time to sell it to highest bidder. Naturally something seems to go wrong. Very disjointed and fragmentary story. Probably meant as humorous but doesn't work for me, at least. **1/2
Wife-Stealing Time • novelette by R. Garcia y Robertson
Adventures in Barsoom. Heroic action, beautiful women, furious beasts. The story seems to be a wish fulfillment fantasy. I wasn't entirely sure if the story was Burroughs fanfic or if it happens in some future terraformed planet which is named after Mars novels. Well - the difference between those is very slight anyway. Not something for my taste. **
Flowers of Asphodel • novelette by Damien Broderick
Far future story, a bit confusing, as at least I didn't completely grasp the background. A man is woken from hibernation before he is supposed to, as his wife is trying to destroying the universe - or something. Writing is ok, but somehow I got feeling that there should be more back-story than it was given in the flashbacks. ***-
Erosion • shortstory by Ian Creasey
A man who has been enhanced before leaving earth and will be traveling to a new colony world has one last weekend on earth and travels to coast to see the sea for one last time. Well written, moving and bittersweet story. Extreme stupidity of the main protagonist in one act is irritation, though. ***½
Flotsam • novelette by Elissa Malcohn
A woman finds as a child a "sea baby" - apparently something which has inspired tales of mermaids. That affects her in many ways. Overlong and very preachy about pollution, a far amount of condensing of a bit over-literary writing would have made the storytelling easier to follow and more enjoyable. **1/2
Before My Last Breath • shortstory by Robert Reed
A cemetery of aliens is found on a coal mine. There are thousands of them, those who are buried deeper are physically healthier and have much more technologically advanced things with them. It appears that they are from a colony or ship wreck and slowly died out during thousands of years. Told by several viewpoints - the last being one of the later aliens before they all died out. Very well written and good story. There seems to be something lacking however, the story goes for the mood, not so much for the plot. There are some small plot-holes: if the aliens have so different biochemistry that they don't decompose well, they shouldn't have been able to eat anything from earth. And if their dying out took 60000 years they'd should have evolved to withstand earth's atmosphere and climate a bit better. ****-
The Ghost Hunter's Beautiful Daughter • novelette by Christopher Barzak
A father and a daughter hunt ghosts. The daughter can see them and make them visible for her father, who then captures them into a photograph. The first ghost they captured was the girls' mother. Unknown to the father the captured ghosts are still "living" inside the photos. Well told and fascinating story. A bit too pure fantasy to be exactly for my taste, but something I enjoyed reading. Ending is perhaps a bit too open. ****-
Deadly Sins • shortstory by Nancy Kress

An assistant has apparently killed an important scientist in cold blood. But why? Well written story, but a bit too short, might well be a first chapter of a longer story. ****-
The Sea of Dreams • novella by William Barton
A man who has made himself rich by using technology from an alien spaceship he found, stumbles to another alien spaceship. When he investigates it with a beautiful "avatar" of female biological AI, they are transported to another time and space. So begins an adventure involving lilliputian, flying saucers, ray guns, alternative worlds and so on. The beginning is very good, but ending is a bit too pulpy. A few ideas less might have made better story - not that this is a bad one as such. ***1/2

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