Sunday, December 11, 2011

Asimov's Science Fiction, October-November 2011

A large double-issue with a lot to read. A fairly average issue. Writing in most of the stories is very good,

Stealth • novella by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Diving in the wreck” -story. This time the story isn't about driving in a concrete ship wreck, but rather about the consequences of strange technology which has been retrieved from ancient spaceships. Military has a lot of interest for a cloaking device. Unfortunately, it seems to be extremely dangerous and people studying it tend to disappear without leaving any trace. Sometimes whole laboratories or even space stations where the experiments have been done have vanished. A woman who may have a better grasp of the tech than anyone else has been responsible for themain lab studying the cloaking tech. The story starts when the lab is being evacuated as apparently something has gone very much wrong. Then the story is told on several time levels, some covering past of the scientist, while the events after the accident are also being followed. A very good story, some parts were somewhat heavy with discussion, but very enjoyable nevertheless, however it is not among the best stories by one of my favorite authors. ****-
The Cult of Whale Worship • shortstory by Dominica Phetteplace
A first story of a new author. A scientist who studies toxoplasma wants to stop whale hunting by designing a new strain of toxoplasma which would apparently affect somehow human though patterns concerning whales. It isn’t explicitly stated what the influence would be. Would people start to like whales? Or would they be indifferent towards them? Both alternatives might have some serious consequences. Writing was ok, especially for a first timer. ***-
This Petty Pace • shortstory by Jason K. Chapman
A man gets some advice from the future. Everything doesn’t go very well, but his life is pretty good anyway. He still gets a few messages which are garbled to some degree (or are not told to the reader). He starts to suspect that his line of research and/or his decedents will eventully cause something really bad. Pretty well written story, but there some less clear things in the ending especially the reason why the man did what he did. (Sent a letter for his descendent). ***
The Outside Event • novelette by Kit Reed

An author takes part on a strange author retreat. A group of authors live very isolated life, and they are eliminated one at a time. It is supposed to be some sort of reality show at the same time (but I wonder where the cameras are - they are not mentioned, and the protagonist even learns the “reality show” angle on the second day). There is a strange and agonizing atmosphere all the time. And there is a threat of “the outside event” which might have effect to the outcome of the competition. The writing is distinctive, perhaps too much so. I am not sure got the story, especially the ending was to a certain extent unclear. **½
The Pastry Chef, the Nanotechnologist, the Aerobics Instructor, and the Plumber • shortstory by Eugene Mirabelli
A woman starts to hear Italian from the water running through the kitchen faucet. Her live-in partner - a nanotech researcher - doesn’t hear it. She asks a linguistic to listen if the sounds really are Italian. And soon the toilet starts to speak in Turkish. The story revolves around unbelievable relationships and even more unbelievable unexplained strange happenings. Overall the content and style were something I usually hate. It that was pretty much true for this story, also. ***-
Free Dog • shortstory by Jack Skillingstead
After a divorce man got his dog, but the ex-wife spreads the template of the dog on the Internet. It gets popular for a while and people have copies of the dog as nano-swarmns. He isn’t too thrilled about that. He finds a new love, the real dog gets older and the story just fizzles out. Writing is good, but there isn’t real ending. ***
My Husband Steinn • novelette by Eleanor Arnason
A story about a woman who lives on a secluded area in Iceland. He meets some trolls, and eventually befriends one. Fairly nice story, but there was a very superfluous story inside a story which had nothing to do with the main tale and could easily have removed. ***+
To Live and Die in Gibbontown • shortstory by Derek Künsken
There apparently are only monkeys on earth, most countries have a majority of one monkey species. Euthanasia of the old monkeys is commonplace and encouraged. One monkey establishes an euthanasia service which offers its’ as assassinations. One old bonobo granny hires him to assassinate her so well that she doesn’t even notice it. A pretty unusual and interesting story. ***+
A Hundred Hundred Daisies • shortstory by Nancy Kress
Climate has changed and parts of the US are dried out. Former farmers live meager life on their already foreclosed farms. A water pipe from the great Lakes is running through area. Some people are starting to fight against it. A very good story, but it is far too short. Might very well be a first chapter of a novel, now it ends far too soon. ****
The Man Who Bridged the Mist • novella by Kij Johnson
Areas of “mist” separate different parts of the world. Mist is at least partly toxic and it is something between liquid and gas. It is possible cross on special boats, but that is often very hazardous. There are also strange and dangerous things living inside the mist. An engineer comes to build a bridge over a strait filled with mist, which will be the longest bridge ever to cross an area of mist. The story tells mainly about of the life man building the bridge, about his work and love and how he changed during the years. A rather long story, which is at places more than a little longwinded. Few actual events happen during the story. The setting was pretty interesting, but we didn’t learn anything about what the mist is or about any other details of the world. There was no reason at all why the story couldn’t have been told as a straight drama and the fantasy aspects are extremely superfluous. If you want to tell that story, why set the story in a fantasyland? Writing as such was excellent, though. ***-

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