Asimovs. July 2011.

Chris Beckett. Day 29.

A thoughtful story from Beckett, a psychological study of a human about to return to Earth from scientific work on a far distant planet. The journey back isn’t a problem in itself, the superluminal transfer, which will see him encoded to data and flashed across space back to Earth – it’s one of the side-effects, the fact that the process wipes clean recent memories.

It is well-established that whilst you may retain some memories of up to the 30th day before the transfer, anything from Day 29 is lost. He struggled with losing memory of those 30 days as the result of the outward journey, and in heading back home he has to revisit those issue, address the issues of his strained relationship with his fellow workers, and his ambivalent relationship with the local human settlers, and the indigenous intelligent lifeform, and the planet itself.

It’s a detailed investigation of his psyche, and asks questions and probes into detail, rather than being another tiresome story of xenolinguistics/psychology.

Theodora Goss. Pug.

A gentle story of a sickly child in the 19th century, from a well to do family. Her quiet life is made more bearable by a secret doorway, which takes her to other times and other places – but not too far – through which she is able to lead a more fulfilled life.

A touch of Tom’s Midnight Garden, with a pinch of the Brontes/Austens.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Dunyon.

A bleak look at the desperate straits of refugees who have fled to a distant outpost, where the opportunity to find a safe haven is one to be grasped at all cost. The owner of a bar on the outpost, a strong female character, watches, with a numbed detachment.

Norman Spinrad. The Music of the Sphere.

A musician, and a cetacean scientist (no, someone who studies whale, dolphins, and orcas, not a whale, dolphin or orca) find that their expertise unexpectedly overlaps, and that not only do they open a communication channel with the cetaceans, they find out much, much more.

Josh Roseman. Bring on the Rain.

Climate change brought on by an ‘event’ leads to a sort of Mad Max future, with nomaid communities of desert-adapted vehicles/ships forming, the better to protect themselves and to seek water.

A tight drama is enacted, with a bit of backstory, and an ending offering the potential of a sequel. FWIW I’d vote for one.

note to self : check to see if Americans do indeed spell drought ‘draught’ as in GvG’s introduction

note to readers : the above note to self was not left in by accident

Leah Cypess. Twelvers.

Near-future high school teen angst, in a society where natural birth is very much not the norm, but the victim of bullying is one for whom her parents made a choice which should have been for the better, but found out that side effects took away any potential advantage of that choice.

It’s fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t really break any new ground to raise it above what feels like are a whole heap of similar stories.

Bruce McAllister. The Messenger.

As with the previous story in the issue, a short story that treads well-trodden ground – in this case time travel. McAllister enables his time traveller to go back in time to meet his mother – who died shortly after he was born. There’s a further layer to the story due to the nature of his death, and McAllister handles the story well without tipping into sentimentality, so overall a nice little addition to the time travel story without breaking new ground.

Paul Cornell. The Copenhagen Interpretation.

Cornell’s ‘One of Our Bastards Is Missing’ was well-received a couple of years ago, and was Hartwell/Cramered and Dozoised.

This features further adventures of his protagonist, a secret service employee of the Crown, in an alternate-ish history with the balance between warring monarchies very much a matter of concern. Cornell fleshes out the political and scientific background, with a neat take on what that falling apple might have suggested to Newtown, and has a much more far flung drama as a result.

The ability to create ‘folds’ in time and space is a more than useful plot device, akin to Dr. Who’s Tardis (Cornell is a Dr. Who novel writer) which does require a suspension of disbelief, and the evil brothers do slip into bwahahaha Let Me Explain The Plot To You mode. But I forgive them this for their multi-dimensional gravitic testicular torture.

Conclusion

Some good stories in here, but not a standout issue.

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