Asimovs September 2014

asimovs september 2014
James Gunn. Patterns.

Veteran James Gunn (90 and counting!) provides a short story which references Asimov’s Hari Seldon as a precursor to today’s Big Data, and looks briefly at the risk of collecting such data, as others may also find the data of use….

It’s a story with a simplistic approach (analyst in a big governmental security agency raises issue of being hacked with his boss and is pooh-poohed rather than the big red button being pushed), but neatly describes the somewhat autistic analyst and his approach to life through the lens of data and patterns.

Tochi Onyebuchi. Place of Worship.

An excellent story from an author new to me. He has a way with words that is rare in SF, with more classier writing in most of his paragraphs than many SF writers manage in a whole story.

It could be argued that there isn’t a strong sfnal element to it, with only the fact that part of the story is set in an orbiting colony. But the setting is key to the story, as the protagonist, who relates his life-long struggle with alcoholism, has been seeking god and fighting the battle with the devil within and without that drives him to the bottle.

We find out about his relationships with his mother and family, how christianity plays a role in his his life, and how from an early age he looked up at the stars, wanting to get above them, nearer to his god. And in orbit, still closer to his god, and via recollections of time spent on barstools (some very clever and insightful writing), he finally is able to bridge that gap.

It’s worth a couple of reads, even if you’re a religion eschewer like myself, as the story is fundamentally about humanity and what lies within, rather than some bearded dude on a cloud.

Kelly Sandoval. Everyone Will Want One.

A look at how peer-envy and pressure to be part of the in-crowd for young girls -might- be mitigated by an electronic helper that draws on social media to ensure the right connections are made. The young girl we follow is an early adopter as her father works in the company developing next year’s ‘must-have’ piece of kit, but it dealing with teen girls and their relationships is a trick thing indeed.

The story (in contrast to the previous one in the issue) felt a little light (albeit in addressing some darkish areas) and didn’t really grab me.

Rick Wilber. Scouting Report.

A baseball scout has a hot prospect for the Major League, until, over several mojitos, a young woman points out a fatal flaw in the young man’s game. There’s more to the woman than meets the eye, and when they all fly to mainland USA, she follows the young man into the toilet, and does something for him that’s way beyond his wildest dreams…

Amanda Forrest. A Lullaby in Glass.

A near-future Vietnam where a remote fishing village are eking out an existence under a repressive regime with a more hi-tech industry than has been the case previously. There’s a technical issue that is reducing output, and with a visit from government officials, the problem needs to be identified and fixed.

It turns out that a young immigrant worker, and her background, and desire for her story to be heard, are the issue.

A fairly bleak take on the pressures of technology, globalisation and repressive regimes, with a glimmer of light in the humanity at the end.

Susan Palwick. Windows.

An impactful four pages from Palwick, set in a near-future USA in which a mother takes a trip on a Greyhound bus, to visit her incarcerated son.

With him separated from her in prison, she is also missing her daughter, who ‘lucked out’ in winning a lottery to get a place on a generation starship. Such is society, that spending the rest of your life on board the starship is far better than life back at home. The mother is concerned that the luck she’s been having, in getting a video transmission from her daughter just in time to show her son in prison ($100 to pay for the visit!), having an empty seat next to her on the bus isn’t going to last…

Tom Purdom. Bogdavi’s Dream

Of the previous installment in this story series I wrote: “A ‘fast paced adventure’ of the kind that Purdom often produces that don’t really do it for me. But if you are wanting to read more about Harold the Human, here’s your chance…” and I reckon the advice is the same with this story.

Conclusion

Onyebuchi and Palwick the pick of Asimovs September 2014 for me.

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