Asimovs. March 2011.


John Kessel. Clean.

A sequel to Kessel’s first Asimov story – ‘Hearts Do Not in Eyes Shine’, all the way back from October 1983.

Alzheimer’s is taking hold of an academic, and he is willing to undergo a drastic memory erasure procedure to halt the insiduous march of the disease. His wife is quite happy with this, their relationship long since close, but the daughter has other ideas. Neither of the characters – father, mother, daughter – are perfect, which helps a story whose central scientific conceit is a little difficult to accept, and there’s a nice balance to the story. Would be interesting to dig out the first story to get full value from this one.

Neal Barrett Jr. Where.

A neat, original little story from Barrett, very much the type of story he writes, and which, sadly, so few others appear to attempt.

The editorial intro gives one the on hand some interesting insight into Barrett’s thinking around this story, but which also, on the other hand, perhaps spoils the fun for the reader a little bit, as they are expecting something a bit different. Perhaps I’ll resist reading the intros until after the stories in future.

And on that basis, I’m not going to give much away in this review, other than to say that Barrett gives a fairly full rein to his imagination, doesn’t try to explain the whys and wherefores, and gives us a slightly skew-whiff future, with an interesting perspective, courtesy of tom, perry and jimmie who take a trip to the mawl and find something interesting

Ian Creasey. “I Was Nearly Your Mother”.

After Neal Barrett Jr’s ‘Where’, with a very strange setting, Creasey provides a rather more prosaic setting of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire. (Well, prosaic to those of us who know Yorkshire well, possibly less so to those unfamiliar with it).

Creasey explores some micro-level issues with multiple worlds theory, as a teenage girl who is an orphan, is visited from another Earth by the woman who was her mother. A decision made upon finding herself pregnant by the woman led her to a life without children, and she is seeking some form of closure on that decision. There are some heavy psychological issues betwixt erstwhile mother and child which are played out over the course of the day and evening, and the morning does indeed bring resolution.

An Owomoyela. God in the Sky.

A short but effective/affecting story.

A huge light appears in the sky – and the science shows that it is impossibly distant for something so large and bright. We follow a grandfather and his adult grandchild as they work out their own paths through this event – he reviewing his decision to leave his religion behind. Through their conversations we learn about them, the generation between them, and how humanity is adjusting to something unknowable.

Nancy Fulda. Movement.

An interesting perspective, that of a young child, happy in her own mind, her own world view, her own timeframes. But she doesn’t fit into the norm, and so her parents are seeking medical advice for ‘treatment’.

Fulda gets across the alienation of the protagonist, and the feelings she has of appreciating the world on an altogether different basis.

Steve Bein. The Most Important Thing in the World.

A New York cabbie finds something left behind in his cab by a fare, something that gives him all the time in the world.

It appears to offer an opportunity to wealth and happiness, but when reunited with the owner, he realises that there have been prices to pay, and even more prices potentially to pay, and in the end he realises that being able to control time is not a panacea, and that the answers to his problems are altogether more straightforward.

An interesting take on temporal tweaking, with the cabbie coming across well as a very human, very real character.

Nick Wolven. Lost in the Memory Palace, I Found You.

The relentless pace of change is ramped up by Wolven, as the bus routes, the buildings, the very (and quite notably) restaurants we use are constantly changing around us. It’s a disorientating world, where a fleeting memory can be a potentially valuable thing, something worth chasing down. Or not.

A clever story, well told.

Robert Reed. Purple.

A strange story – a blinded, maimed young man is one of a select few humans who are rescued from death by a greater force. But perhaps there are limits on that greater force, and there is a battle of wills between the determined young man and the empathic creature, before he is released back into the wild.

Conclusion.

A strong issue, with a good range of inventive stories.

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