Jeff Spock. Everything that Matters.
Diving on an alient planet, looking for even more alien treasure on the ocean floor, Russo believes that his number is up when an aquatic predator which has no right being in the same waters, attacks him. Equipped with some bio-nano tech, he is able to reach the surface, but with a lot of very important bits missing. It comes as a surprise when he comes to in a hospital, and he is even more surprised that his erstwhile business partner is willing to stump up some serious cash to deal with his various stumps. There’s a nurse on hand to give a helping hand, as it were, to test the new equipment, which does not go as well as he would like. He then faces the challenge of getting back into the water to again seek out the subterranean haul. He suspects his partner and this time has a Plan B, which enables him to feed the partner to the fishes, get the girl, and the wreck.
It’s an entertaining story, without being a classic.
Jason Sanford. When Thorns Are The Tips of Trees.
An altogether more individual story, with some central imagery that will stay in the mind after reading. A near-future rural America, where touch is forbidden. There has been a terrible virus which can be passed on by touch, which results in those effects becoming tortured souls before dying and whose bones turn into small trees which contain, if nurtured properly, more than a shadow of the person who has died. It’s an equally vivid setting as his first story for Interzone in issue 217, and marks him out as one to watch. The story is handled well, with a young boy having to come to terms with the loss of his mother and best friend, as his township is attacked by infected people who object to their future as living memorials.
Alexander Marsh Freed. The Shenu.
Markos, one of a small group of people living at society’s edge, for whom New Age mysticism/bollocks is a key element of their lives, feels that forces, dark forces, are onto him.
Mercurio D. Rivera. The Fifth Zhi.
The fifth Zhi being one of several hundred clones, vat-bred and grown in a week, to make an assault on a very strange alien creature/tree that has landed on Earth, burrowed through the crust, and set up an impenetrable barrier to defend itself.
The fifth Zhi is marked out from his cadre siblings by the fact the he alone has been able to pass through the barrier, and he must then climb the great tree to deliver a viral package to rid the Earth of the menace. However, in realising that is was his sense of loss that marked him out from his brothers, he is able to come to some understanding with the alien creature, which itself is suffering from a far greater sense of loss and loneliness. And he has to make a decision – whether to deliver his payload, or become one with the tree and to seek further afield.
Gord Sellar. The Country of The Young.
In near future Korea, Ji Ah is confronted by a young man with memory loss. The evidence is clear – he is her lover, who has been through rejuvenation treatment. However, he cannot remember their relationship, which had suffered through his refusal to take the rejuve treatment, and she is driven to consider a revenge on the society that has driven a wedge between her and her lover.
Aliette de Bodard. Butterfly Falling At Dawn.
de Bodard returns to the milieu of her ‘Obsidian Shards’ in ‘L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume XXIII’ and ‘The Lost Xuyan Bride’ from Interzone #213. I wasn’t greatly struck with the former, and this detective story didn’t quite do it for me. There’s too much detective story and too little SF for the balance to be right for me. The alienation of the detective, a refugee from Mexica, is an issue for her and some of those amongst her, as she unvravels the mystery of a murdered designer. There’s a touch of the Columbo’s about it, with the odd flash of intuition from the detective, who you expect to turn the case with that final ‘and just one last question…’. I’d prefer to see the ‘tec storylines ditched in favour of something that explores the Alternate History element just a little more. Maybe even some Science Fiction, instead of Alternate History, dealing with alienation and loss, separation from loved ones etc etc that SF gives so much opportunity for (but isn’t taken up as often as it should).
- David Langford’s ‘Ansible Link’
- Sandy Auden briefly interviews and reviews Tim Lebbon
- John Howard reviews Ken MacLeod’s ‘Night Sessions’
- Maureen Kincaid Speller reviews Dozois #25
- Iain Emsley reviews Neal Stephenson’s ‘Anathem’
- David Mathew reviews Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Graveyard Book’
- Ian Sales reviews Michael Andre-Druissi’s ‘Lexicon urthus (Second Edition)
- Peter Loftus reviews Michael Flynn’s ‘The January Dancer’
- Sandy Auden reviews James Barclay’s ‘Vault of Deeds’
- Duncan Lunan reviews Harry Turtledove’s ‘The Man With the Iron Heart’
- Tony Lee reviews DVDs : ‘Charlie Jade’, ‘Lost in Austen’, Sky TV’s ‘The Colour of Magic’, ‘Starship Troopers 3 : Marauders’, ‘Spooks: Code 9’, ‘The X-Files : I Want to Believe’, ‘The Princess Bridge
- Nick Lowe reviews ‘Death Race’, ‘Star Wars: the Clone Wars’, ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’, ‘Babylon AD’, ‘Fly me to the Moon’, ‘The Fall’, and ‘Mutant Chronicles’
A good, but not great, issue, with Sanford being the pick of the youthful crop.