Asimovs. August 2010.

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Alan Wall. Superluminosity.
A first Asimovs story for Wall, featuring love and betrayal, time travel and handbags. In a near future where society is reaping what we are currently sowing, Jack has cheated on the wife, but whilst he is smart enough to have created a time machine, he isn’t smart enough to realise that going back in time when you are reliant on your recently wronged wife to call you back from the past is -not- a good idea.

The story has some interesting ideas, especially the time traveller leaving behind an increasing ethereal version of himself, moored to the time machine, but suffers slightly from the reader not making an emotional attachment to either the husband or the wife.

Carol Emshwiller. The Lovely Ugly.

Emshwiller explores the relationship between the native species on a planet, and the humans who arrive to explore. The humans are blissfully unaware that the creatures they are dealing with are far cleverer than they make out, as the story shows through the eyes of one of the aliens charged with communicating with them. Whilst the humans are similarly unaware of what the planetary system has in store for them, it is some baser instincts that bring matters to a head.

Ian Creasey. Crimes, Follies, Misfortunes and Love.

Post-apocalypse, and the survivors are reduced to treadle-powered computers, and trying to glean useful intelligence from the huge data archives available to them. Sadly this includes data-mining amongst blog archives, giving the survivors the opportunity to reflect on the blinkered, anal and self-obsessed ancestors who got them into this mess.

One woman recently-deceased father hovers over the story, as his daughter comes to terms with his death, and has to decide whether it is worth the effort to fully recover what he may have left behind, or whether to leave the past as a foreign country and to look forward.

The story didn’t really grab me, and I did have some reservations about a man writing a story in which the characters, all female, are using treadle-powered computers to do family history research, and are mostly quite happy to pass the time in idle conversation, with the male character, even in death, having the females in orbit around him.

Pamela Rentz. The Battle of Little Big Science.

Rentz’ first published story, featuring an intriguing combination of time travel and bingo on an Indian reservation. Not exactly time travel, as the researcher, funding by the Tribal Board, has a technology that is able to see into the past. In the end … spoiler .. rather than using that technology to right historical rings, saving the weekly bingo games at the casino is the top priority for the elders.

It’s a light story, but managed to take me back in time to my first (and last) game of bingo, with my nan at the social club in Blackhall Colliery in the north east of England, in about 1968. Keerist, that feels so long and far away, that to see that through a time travel machine would be like looking into an alien world. In terms of the story in hand, it’s nice enough as far as it goes, but it is very much a first published story, drawing a lot on the author’s experience, and my guess would be (happy to be proved wrong!) that there won’t be that many Rentz stories appearing in Asimovs in the future. But kudos to her for getting in there!

Alexander Jablokov. Warning Label.

Jablokov’s name on the cover had me looking forward to this story, but, truth be told, it didn’t grab me as his stories often do – it’s contemporary, and an interesting look at how technology (‘intelligent’ RFID, social media) can impact on local politics, elevating an unlikely local government official to their 15 minutes of fame.

J.M. Sidorova. The Witch, the Tinman, The Flies.

Nicely written story, giving a strong sense of setting through the eyes of a young child in a tenement in Russia, and the political oppression of a neighbour, whose scientific experiments on fruit flies give the child pause for thought. But whilst there is science, there isn’t any SF.

Nick Wolven. On the Horizon.

A dark, intense, near-future psychological thriller in which a serial murderer is at work, his victims farm labourers, an underclass of workers in a US moving further away from the American dream. On the basis of it takes a thief to find a thief, the Feds call in a disturbed individual, who has his own inner demons, and has had federal help to fine tune his innate ability with a form of empathy/telepathy.

Gregory Norman Bossert. Slow Boat.

The pick of the issue. A woman wakes up, disorientated, and very, very surprised to find herself connected up to, and inside a suspended animation coffin – clearly a long, long way away from her settee back on Earth. She has to use her smarts to get out of that predicament, and then to make sense of what has happened, and what to do as the only person on a long-haul transporter headed somewhere. She’s got her AI to hand, and her own background as a hacker, and as the story unfolds we find out more about her, why she is known as NaN, and just what is happened, and how she can turn the tables on those who put her in this position, all of which makes it much more than a routine SF story about someone having to get out of a predicament, and a second good story form Bossert in Asimovs in 2010.

Conclusion.

Not the strongest issue, with Bossert’s story the pick of bunch.

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