Saturday, October 20, 2012

Asimov's Science Fiction, Decmber 2012

A pretty nice issue with mostly good stories.

The Caramel Forest by Chris Beckett
A planet with new colonists is inhabited by alien "goblins" which are able to project at least feelings to the minds of humans. Most of the feelings are negative: anxiety, uncertainty and other negative feelings, but one child experiences them as positive. The goblins seem to be interested in her, and eventually they seem to be able to influence her. A pretty good story, but the ending was too open for my taste. ***+
The Waves by Ken Liu
A generation ship which is travelling to another star receives a transmission from earth: the secret for immortality has been discovered and it is so simple that even the colonists on the ship are able to achieve it. But the life on the ship was planned to depend on new generations replacing the old ones. A sort of decision is reached. Eventually, the ship arrives to the planet it was supposed to, but the mankind has already arrived there by new, better and faster ships, and they are getting near to the singularity.
The story has far too many ideas for a novellette and is pretty fragmented as a result.***
The Wizard of West 34th Street by Mike Resnick
Just like an episode from the Twilight Zone TV series. A man befriends with a bit tattered and shaggy man who seems to be able to see everything which happens to other people and what kind of choices they should make. Is that a blessing or a curse? ***+
The Pipes of Pan by Robert Reed
A taxonomist starts to propose a new taxonomical name for Homo sapiens, as so many aren't so sapient. That causes great controversy and there are even several attempts against his life. Eventually, he becomes a kind of guru for peace and cooperation, but when situation turns bad there might be some hard choices to be made. A pretty good story, another one where a longer form might have worked better. ***
The Black Feminist’s Guide to Science Fiction Film Editing by Sandra McDonald
Movies are being re-edited to remove chauvinistic male dominated influences to give women the starring roles. A film which has never been publicly shown which has been written by Leight Brackett has been found in the remains of old time movie producer. His demented widow will let someone to edit it and make it presentable for public showing. A woman whose has been successful on several re-edits and a male who has made edited "feminist" movies (for example Handmaids Tale) to NOT to be o feminist compete for the rights. A pretty good story, well written. ***½
Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected by Steven Popkes
Ex-girlfriend hires an embittered musician (who was an one hit wonder years ago with a song he himself didn't really appreciate) to enhance songs performed by "teeny-popper", who is in reality a sophisticated computer software programmed to give most engaging performances possible. Would any of them have possibilities to grow as persons or in case of the singer who is "just" software to grow to a person? An extremely good story, which might well find itself from the award shortlists next year. The only nitpicks are far too many song names mentioned at the end part of the story and somewhat too convenient and easy ending. ****

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