Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Asimov's Science Fiction, December 2013

A pretty decent and readable issue.

Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters • novelette by Henry Lien

A naive Chinese girl is at a ”boarding school”, which emphasis training on skates. Everything on school premises is covered by “pearl” which makes it possible to skate everywhere. The girls train for some sort of martial art/sport academy which accepts only the best. The protagonist is the best skater of bunch and knows it very well. Will she grow during the story? A slightly surprising answer: no, she doesn’t. A very well written story on very unusual surroundings. ****-
Dignity • shortstory by Jay O'Connell
A daughter of an extremely affluent man wants to keep her find: a shabby child. The father opposes as it would be too much trouble to get her conditioned to be a faithful servant. An okay, somewhat short story. ***+
The Fitter • shortstory by Timons Esaias
An alien gets work in a ladies' undergarment story and becomes the best salesman ever. The beginning was pretty good, but the story decayed by the end. ***-
Vox ex Machina • novelette by William Preston
A flight attendant finds a head from an airplane. For some strange reason he takes it with her. It turns out to be a head of an android which is modeled on a late science fiction author. The head is able to speak almost sensibly. She asks different sorts of questions and the head gives Delphic answers. The writing is once more nice, but I didn’t really understand the actions of the protagonist. Why would she steal such an object from the plane? Why would she take so seriously head's fairly pointless discussion? Why would I care? ***
Grainers • shortstory by R. Neube
The story is told from two points of view. One is a slightly alcoholic officer of a patrol ship, another is a swindler of a "grain ship" which is filled by refugees from earth who have lived on the ship for years. Both are tricking the other, both know for a degree that they are tricking and being tricked. A pretty nice story, but the background was slightly sketchy as I am not familiar with other stories with the same background - at least I assume there are other stories in the same series. ***+
Bloom • shortstory by Gregory Norman Bossert
A small group of people is trapped by a strange alien plant/animal/creature which consumes its victims instantly. They can’t escape, but they can discuss their situation. Good writing, but I didn’t really get into the story. ***
Frog Watch • shortstory by Nancy Kress
A recently bereaved young woman is spending her grieving time nearby a swamp counting frogs. There seems to be more and healthier frogs around than could be expected. She meets her neighbor who seems more than slightly strange. The writing was pretty nice and the story was pretty enjoyable, but it slightly too much just a fragment. ***½
Entangled • novelette by Ian R. MacLeod
A woman has some sort of neural enhancement which allows her to influence other people’s mind. She has a brain trauma, and she isn't able to join a sort of group mind everyone else is part of. She has some traumatic past which eventually must face. An ok story with perhaps too complicated setup for its length.***

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