Fantasy and Science Fiction January 2001

The Measure of All Things. Richard Chedwyk.

Tom Groverton runs an animal rescue centre – with a difference. Instead of abandoned or mistreated cats or dogs, his charges are intelligent bio-toy dinosaurs.

Created and genetically tweaked to be small and cute, with a short life-span and limited intelligence, the dinosaurs turned out small, but they were also highly intelligent, and long-lived – certainly beyond the love or attention span of a child (the Toy Story theme). A visitor, an adult seeking his childhood stegosaur companion, visits.

Chedwyk manages to keep the story from being too saccharin.

The Carpetmaker’s Son. Andreas Eschbach.

Translated from the German. A very dark, macabre, Germanic tale indeed, with the old carpetmaker concerned that his only son is unwilling to follow the tradition of following in his father’s footsteps.

The Carpetmaker faces a major problem, having been blessed to date with the good luck to have sired several daughters from different wives (the better to harvest different-hued hair with which to weave his single, life-long in the making, carpet) and only one son – for the haircarpetmaker is allowed but one son.

A refreshing change.

Crooked Creek. Robert Reed.

A somewhat dysfunctional son, contemplating terminating yet another relationship, reluctantly agrees to meet his similarly challenged elderly father at a golf course, and takes his more empathic partner with him.

Colleen is in fact gifted, if that is the word, with an ability to catch glimpses of ghosts. She engages with Dad, uncovering a cause for his usual detached, pre-occupied behaviour.

The Dinner Party. Henry Slesar.

Short story, slightly shaggy-dog, in which an environmentalist challenges the dealings of a genmod research corporation.

The ending rather missed the mark for me, as I didn’t recognise the American slang which the story ‘twist/revelation’ hung upon.

Alas, Lirette. Yoon Ha Lee.

Hard SF with a lyrical element. Kendra Sharadon is called upon to undertake a risky mission – peace with the Veretys has been jeopardised due to the actions of her father, long exiled from their planet Liadhe.

She hooks up with another spaceship and its AI, and journeys deep into risky territory.

Well written, although perhaps too short. Others would have had a 700 page novel out of this storyline!

Whisper. Ray Vukchevic.

A parting shot about his snoring leads the protagonist to tape record his nocturnal sleeping to refute the insult.

But whilst there is no snoring recorded – something else, a spooky something else, is recorded.

The Mind Field. Rick Heller.

A French diplomat faces a dangerous and challenging task in resolving a conflict between Russia and Tatarsan. Getting into the mindset of the leaders of the two sides proves difficult, but some high-tech equipment gives him an edge.

A counter-edge, obtained by more traditional means (a video of him being more than diplomatic with a colleague) is met with the equivalent of a gallic shrug.

My Repeaters. Stephen Gallagher.

Time travel becomes extremely accessible – in fact, it is available through shops, but the customers are mostly sad-sacks, often making repeated visits in vain attempts to achieve the present they desire.

An interesting take on Time Travel: no dinosaurs, no famous figures, no dictators to foil, just human motivation.

Name That Moon. Robert Onopa.

A hotel on the moon is struggling to attract visitors, and the manager makes an audacious attempt to raise their profile. But the plan singularly fails, until hotel employee Charley Shackleton and reporter Claire Albricht hit it off.

Entertaining, with the vandalism of the Appollo 11 landing site having a sad ring of truth.

Conclusion.

Nine stories, most of which are enjoyable without setting the world alight. The issue suffers a little through not having at least one story of real substance and length.

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