Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 2001 (Peanut Press edition)

At Tide’s Turning. Laura J. Moxon.

The ice-cold Brimstone has been settled by clone groups working to terraform the moon. Manda CarliPablo is a singleton amongst her clonefamily, which is constituted of sets of twins. Following a major earthquake there is substantial damage to part of the colony, and Manda is determined to continue the search for survivors, despite the sorrow following the death of one of her clonesibs.

Moxon explores a developing pseudo-spirituality within the community, and begins to unpack some of the psychological issues likely to surface amongst such tight knit groups, although only at the level of the unhappy singleton amongst the happy bunny twin sibs.

A Windy Prospect . Elizabeth Malartre.

On the planet Windy the mining operation has been facing dwindling efficiency, much to Galactic Mining’s concern. An agent arrives to work with the small team on the ground, and to see if the native !Dran may be part of the problem.

Genni Cross is worried that some of the miners, such as the Australian Seymour, persist in seeing the !Dran as little more than the earthlike kangaroos which they resemble. A sudden, unexpected deluge seems to precipitate a radical behavioural change in the !Dran, which begins to explain some of the mysteries surrounding the native race. But not only do the !Dran get into rut, but so do the humans!

Fairly standard xenobiology/behaviour fare, beginning with the well-trodden plot device of a lack of understanding of the natives by the humans, and a riddle which is solved.

Rogue Terminator. Brian Stableford.

Pharmers in the heart of rural England are doing well with their pharmaceutically enhanced crops. However, an opportunity to (illegally) hold back some seed from one year’s crop to sow the following year promises further profit.

However, the effect of their experiment is somewhat greater than they anticipated, leading to media attention of a type not seen since they stopped making crop circles.

An enjoyable yarn from a good story-teller.

Computer Virus. Nancy Kress.

A widow, her fellow-scientist husband murdered by an eco-nut, has moved into the ultimate hi-tech secure house. But no sooner has all the wizardry been explained than a fleeing AI seeks refuge in her systems, holding her and her children hostage as the agents of the government close in.

As her son falls ill with the strep throat, she uses her husband’s invention, allied to her son’s illness, to free them before the FBI waco the house.

Suffers slightly from the rather too unsubtle way the situation is set up – the description of the house’s security system is literally only just finished being described before the said system is invaded and we get into the meat of the story.

Almost a Nancy Kress meets Stephen King: except that Stephen King would have got a 700plus page novel out of the storyline!

Cockroaches. Joseph Manzioni.

An answer to Fermi’s Paradox is revealed by an AI probe some 30light years en route to Earth: there is no need to travel to the stars, for reality engineering can bring those stars to you.

But the AI is a bearer of bad news for humanity, and this drives a VR software scientist on to greater efforts, demanding a different future for his child.

My Cat. S.N. Dyer.

A short ‘story’ about a pet with a special talent. This is followed by ‘verse’ on feline topics by other writers. It would be a matter of a moment for a typesetter to turn Dyer’s prose into verse by the addition of a few carriage returns, and conversely to turn the verse into prose – without any gain or loss in either.

Conclusion.

A good, but not great, collection of stories, which kept me turning the 700+ pages on my Pocket PC.

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