Asimovs. February 2011. print | kindle | kindle

David Ira Cleary. Out of the Dream Closet.

A singular story from Cleary, if not a nightmarish vision, then something from a disturbed night’s dreaming following an ill-advised late night supper of pickled comestibles.

‘Young’ Sasha, who wants to be known as Little Girl, is visited by The Living Will, a most peculiar automaton, who informs her that hear dearest, if somewhat elderly and large, Papa is to pass on, to upload to the living cloudmind. We follow her strange travels, in which souls are to be harvested and combined and re-used, with some even stranger characters, until she is finally re-united by her father.

Sara Genge. Waster Mercy.

Another short vignette in Genge’s ‘Children of the Waste’ series. Brother Beussy, intent on recompense for the cultural colonialism sins of his forebears, is willing to (nay, almost welcoming of) risk his life out from under the safety of the dome of Paris. In the wasteland, he comes a cropper, and there is some bartering to be done, between himself and one from the wasters, and between himself and indeed himself.

Jeff Carlson. Planet of the Sealies.

I’d have put this down as an Analog story – single premise on which the story hinges, fairly average writing style and not much detail in the characterisation or the setting. The story hinges on just what the scientists are searching for, and what that tells us about them and those whose archeaological remains they are searching amongst.

Aliette de Bodard. Shipbirth.

Another in de Bodard’s ‘Xuya’ sequence, which has traced an alternate history in which China discovered America first, and China/Mexico are the global powers.

The earlier stories in that sequence were historical, and not being a huge fan of Alternate History, I did note in a review of her story Jaguar House in Asimovs last year ‘Now if only the author would write a big canvas space opera, that would be something I’d be really interested in reading.’

With this story, and a recent one in Interzone, now the Xuya timeline has got to the point that the stories are set in space, and colour me impressed. As with that Interzone story, this one features the sacrifices that have to be made to populate the spaceships with their AI minds, borne of women, and which crawl, newly birthed, to the heart of the ship.

The story adds a couple of layers of complexity, in the characters around whom the story revolves, in particular the person coming to test whether the mother of a shipmind which did not live to make the transition, has enough left of herself to live, or whether she is a husk. What that person has had to content with, both in the past, and in the trip to the ship which still awaits its mind, gives the story weight, as does the description of the ship, and the culture which imbues the building of the ship itself. I’m looking forward to more in this sequence.

Tim McDaniel. Brother Sleep.

McDaniel looks at the difficulties facing Thailand in becoming an Asian Tiger economic powerhouse – through the eyes of a young university student whose desparately poor rural parents had scraped together enough cash when he was born to have him genmod to need little sleep.

The majority of his fellow students are urban, and similarly genmod. However, his flatmate is a Sleeper. Whilst he has aspirations to make a success of his life, the young student has difficulties in reaching for his dream.

A sort of ‘Cyberad Days’LITE.

Bill Pronzini and Barry N. Malzberg. Eve of Beyond.

Founder, CEO and 40% shareholder of a clothing business specialising in ethical clothing for the soon to be-departed, Mr. Kampfman finds he is up against not only his son, but the megacorporation whose offer to buy them out his son is clearly in favour.

They are dark days not only for the due to be deceased haberdashery business, but also…

Paul McAuley. The Choice.

A story in McAuley’s Jackaroo sequence, where that alien race have opened up the universe to Earth, potentially saving us from the ecological and political disasters we were bringing on ourselves.

The story is set in Norfolk, a low lying part of eastern England now inundated by rising sea levels. Lucas is a young boy living with his ailing mother, a political activist, who heads off with a friend to find out whether the rumours about a beached alien vessel nearby are true.

The setting and locals are lovingly described (just the odd Americanism being a bit of an anachronism in rural Norfolk), with family dynamics playing a strong part. What looks to be a story about a day’s adventure becomes much darker as the consequences of the their close encounter unfold.

(If you want to check out an example of the Jackaroo series – Crimes and Glory is online on Subterranean, and worth the read.)


Mostly very good stories in the issue.

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