Sunday, March 17, 2013

Asimov's Science Fiction, April-May 2013

A large double issue with a varied bunch of stories – some pretty good, some which are so closely connected with other stories in the same series that they were hard to read as individual stories, and some not so good stories.

The Other Gun by Neal Asher
A far future story which belongs to longer series I am not familiar with. The story was pretty complex with super powerful and super intelligent aliens fighting against themselves with humans as soldiers in the fight. Some more or less human, some with bodies (and appetites) of tyrannosaur rex. A lot happens in the story, but as the background wasn’t familiar to me, the story felt somewhat confusing. ***
Through Your Eyes by Linda Nagata
A young man gets the latest communications implants. He has implanted smartphone like device and contact lenses which are able to record what he sees in real time. He gets involved with an anti-war demonstration which is ruthlessly crushed and people who part to it are imprisoned and interviewed very harshly. And he is recording everything…Somewhat too short a story which reminded me of “Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow. The writing was better, though. ****-
Writing in the Margins by Joel Richards
Apparently it has been proven that reincarnation is a fact. And it is sometimes possible to recover some of the memories of the past lives with special techniques. And apparently has made a HUGE impact to everything. People are commonly committing suicides “to get a fresh start”, death penalty has been abolished as a "too easy punishment” and so on. Really? Why would anyone care about reincarnation without the real preservation of self? But that background is hardly even used in the story, which consists mainly of extremely boring discussion about personal relationships and other things. The story tries to be literary but ends up being overwritten and unmemorable. **
Gray Wings by Karl Bunker
A woman who has modified to have wings is taking part in a flying competition over Africa. She falls down and breaks a few bones. She has nanomodifications and is able to heal in a few hours. She meets a family and a young man who takes care of her overnight. A very well told story with extremely well described characters. The only fault is that the story is so short, more just a scene rather than a complete tale. ****
Julian of Earth by Colin P. Davies
A man who lives on the outback of an alien planet has been living on a story how he was kidnapped as a child by a lone soldier still fighting a war which had ended years ago. A film crew arrives and wants to film a documentary of the lone fighter and hires him as their guide. There are slight problems, however. A fairly run of the mill story, writing was nice but there was nothing really new. ***
The Wall by Naomi Kritzer
A young woman is visited by an older woman who claims to be her future self. The old woman urges her younger counterpart to buy a flight ticket to Berlin as the wall will be falling down soon. The young woman is more than a little skeptical and suspects that her overbearing mother would never tolerate such trip anyway. A very good story, where the believable personal growth of the young woman surprises even her older counterpart. ****-
Distant Like the Stars by Leah Cypess
A method of instantaneous transportation has been discovered. One man really hates it, because in a world with gates you can’t go to an unfamiliar place, or can’t be anywhere really away. Apparently, a life time is enough to see on the worthwhile new sights of several planets, and with instantaneous nontraceable travel it is impossible to just to run away and never be found. The basic neurosis of the main character was hard to believe and irritatingly stupid, but the story was pretty readable in spite of that. ***+
Spider God and the Periodic Table by Alan Wall
A scientist is found as dead in front of his computer. His brain stem is crystallized. By a remarkable leap of reasoning investigators draw a conclusion that neutrinos have started to interact with matter inside victim’s brain. There is no background at all how or why they thought of THAT, or how such implausible mechanism even occurred to someone. Then the story has a vast amount of metaphysical discussion and the theories. I thought that the story was almost unreadable, extremely disjointed and very dull. **-
The Oracle by Ken Liu
People may use a device which sometimes gives them a glimpse of their future. The sight is usually from a significant event, and it is invariably always true, it will happen no matter what. A man used the device as a teenager and saw himself being executed as a murderer. Apparently as an idiot he told everyone about that and as a consequence has lived all his life in a special housing meant for outcasts, like former prisoners, child molesters and so on. One day a young woman seeks his company. The woman has had her own true glimpse of the future. A very good story – the logic isn’t the strong point (why would anyone ever want to use such device?) but mood and writing are excellent. ****-
Warlord by Tom Purdom
This story appears to be a serial in disguise. The beginning has a very short synopsis of what has happened before, but the story seems to directly continue from an earlier part (which I haven’t read). It happens in a planet with two intelligent species which have been hostile against each other, and a group of humans has apparently supported one faction which has been enslaved by the other. I didn’t get into a story at all, as the characters weren’t familiar and the short synopsis was too sketchy to really understand (or care) what was going on. I didn’t finish this one.

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