Asimovs. October/November 2011.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Stealth.

Another in Rusch’s ‘Diving’ series, in which we find out more about the stealth cloaking technology through ‘Squishy’, aka Rosealma, co-ordinating the evacuation of a military research station. Someone from her past comes back to haunt her, a past we find out about through flashbacks to varying times past. Just wish my swiss-cheese brain would help out in remembering if anyone of these characters had appeared in previous stories! Especially as I moved up 10years worth of magazines to the attic just a couple of months ago, and so can’t pull off previous stories from the shelves to check. Doh!

Dominica Phetteplace. The Cult of Whale Worship.

A first published story for Phetteplace, a 2007 Clarion West alum. As is often the case with new authors, the story is short and doesn’t have the depth that comes with experience – and as such the story is more suited to a small press mag than the might ‘movs.

Having said that, Tetsuo, the protagonist is a man with more characterisation than you get in shorter stories, as he struggles with his suicidal, depressive tendencies, brought on by his obsession with the fate on the creatures in our seas. He decides to take radical action.

Jason K. Chapman. This Petty Place.

Chapman impressed with his ‘Architect of Heaven’ online at Clarkesworld earlier this year (Best SF Review).

And he does it again in this story, that has the same ‘feel’ to it. Kyle Preston gets a warning from the future, and he heeds it, but not as much as he should do, with horrendous implications (Chapman pulls no punches!). Preston is fully-rounded character, and we follow him over the years, many years, and further warnings from the future, which leaves him with a seemingly impossible situation, as the only action he appears to have to save what may happen, is to take an action of appalling consequence in his current life.

Clearly an author to look out for.

Kit Reed. The Outside Event.

Part meta-fiction, part epistolary, part reality-show confessional. A must-read if you’re a wannabe author off to your first writer’s retreat.

Or perhaps not…

Eugene Mirabelli. The Pastry Chef, the Nanotechnologist, the Aerobics Instructor, and the Plumber.

A story about a Pastry Chef, a Nanotechnologist, an Aerobics Instructor, and a Plumber. And one of the nicer stories I’ve read for quite some time.

The characterisation is superb. The Nanotechnologist is a control-freak out of one relationship. We see him meet up with and charm the pastry chef, and altogether less-organised person. For a moment I worried that something nasty was going to happen to her, but as the story unfolds you realised it’s not that kind of story.

The aerobics instructor and the plumber come into the equation, as does the fifth character, the academic (not sure why he doesn’t get a namecheck in the title!). As the question of why/how the water from the taps is speaking Italian (or not) threatens the main relationship takes hold, you’ll be pleased to hear that true love finds its way. Not once. Not twice. But thrice.

Jack Skillingstead. Free Dog.

A dog is a man’s best friend, but in this short story a virtual poodle becomes the focus of divorce-settlement unpleasantness, as the dog goes viral.

Eleanor Arnason. My Husband Steinn.

An ardent admirer pays his respects to a women living in a remote house in Iceland. Couple of problems. Firstly, he’s already married. Secondly, he’s a troll. When he gets his just desserts, the troll widow and the object of his thwarted desire meet up.

Derek Kunsken. To Live and Die in Gibbontown.

Monkey business on a gonzo Planet of the Apes, with a hired assassin failing spectacularly to complete his contract – the target of the hit being the very same person who hired him.

Nancy Kress. A Hundred Hundred Daisies.

A short but effective story on the desertification of the USA, with control over the freshwater in the Great Lakes tearing communities, and the the states, apart. Seen through the eyes of a high school student, and his young sister, the story looks at the impact on the people, families and communities.

Kij Johnson. The Man Who Bridged The Mist.

A much longer story from Johnson than we’re used to seeing, and she makes the most of the opportunity.

The story covers several years, creating a setting that has a strong sense of place, and characters who are three-dimensional and who you feel have had a past, and will have a future beyond the story. An empire is split into two halves by a huge river/ravine through which a mist flows – there are dangers in the depths of the mist, creatures that live in it, and the mist itself frequently claims those who use the ferries to cross it.

Coming from the city, Kit has the contract to build the first bridge across the river, and we follow his journey, differences between those in this more remote part of the country different to what he has experienced back at home. The characters are described lovingly, subtle changes in societal norms being used, rather than heavy-handed silliness with names, or giving characters different coloured skins, as less-accomplished authors would be tempted to do.

It’s a story that gives an insight into several different areas, and rather than simply leading up to a dramatic challenge to be overcome, the final bridging of the mist, whilst important, is just another stage in the lives of the main characters. And there’s a tantalising glimpse of more to come.


An excellent issue, Chapman, Mirabelli and Johnson the pick of a fine crop.

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