Sunday, December 29, 2013

Asimov's Science Fiction, February 2014

An average or below average issue. Stories aim for literary quality but many fail as entertainment.

Schools of Clay • (2014) • novelette by Derek Künsken
Metallic, apparently artificial insectoid life forms live on asteroids mining volatiles and metals. They more or less follow the life cycle of insect colonies with periodic swarming where queens find new homes and workers are left behind to die. Radioactive isotopes turn ordinary worker more self-aware and smart. The workers are ruthlessly exploited and the start to plan a mutiny…A pretty good story. A lot happens and writing is fairly dense it took some time to understand the backstory. ***½
The Long Happy Death of Oxford Brown • (2014) • novelette by Jason K. Chapman
A man has died. His brain and consciousness has been uploaded to a digital afterlife. All he wants is to find is wife who died a few years earlier. But apparently she doesn’t want to be easily found. A pretty nice afterlife story. But why the main character always is never interested in the “operation manual” of the afterlife in this type of stories? I personally would take time to peruse it well. ***
Ball and Chain • (2014) • shortstory by Maggie Shen King
The new laws in China allow (or force) polyamorous relationships as there are too few women. The courting of a new husband to a group marriage may be kind of hard. An okay and readably short story. ***
The Transdimensional Horsemaster Rabbis of Mpumalanga Province • (2014) • shortstory by Sarah Pinsker
A widow of photographer visits a tribe of very strange people. Apparently descendants of very early Jews, who apparently ably to translocate in time and/or space. A nicely written story, probably could be classified mainly as some sort of metaphorical magical realism. The writing is good, but the story leaves more questions than it answers and feels like just a fragment. ***+
Last Day at the Ice Man Café • (2014) • shortstory by M. Bennardo
A frozen man from a stone is working on a café and has trouble adjusting to life. A stupid story on many levels. Stupid premise, extremely stupid “science”, stupid characters. **
Steppin' Razor • (2014) • novelette by Maurice Broaddus
A steampunk story involving airships, a cloned Haile Selassie, Rastafarian religion and Jamaica. I know little about last two, and not much more about the first. I had to google to find out that Haile Selassie really was/is a kind messiah for the Rastafarians, and really visited Jamaica in the sixties. As I knew nothing about the real background it hard to get into the story with imaginary background built on the real one and understand it. I found this hard to finish. **

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