Asimovs. February 2012.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The Voodoo Project.

Recruited 30 years earlier as a precocious teenager, a member of The Company who uses her special ability to see possible futures, reflects on her past and her possible futures in France, as another mission briefing beckons – however, this briefing does not go according to plan.

Rudy Rucker and Eileen Gunn. Hive Mind Man.

Excellent collaboration which looks just a few technology steps into the future. It starts nicely domestic, as a young woman just out of one relationship hooks up with a young dude who she knows is certainly not going to be humdrum – he can’t even hold down a barista job. He’s hooked up to the net, social media savvy (+1) and looking for the big break. It seems like a squidskin shirt will give him a computational edge, but he gets much more than he anticipated, as they both do.

The relationship is handled well, giving the right balance between the tech element and the human element.

Bruce McAllister & Barry Malzberg. Going Home.

A gently amusing exchange of letters between an author intent on returning to the Golden Age of Science Fiction, and his publisher. The author is up against a lot – as we find out as the exchange unfolds.

Ken Liu. The People of Pele.

Liu has had a string of excellent stories appearing in various locations in the last year or two, often quite innovative and in some cases challenging. This, his second story in Asimovs, is very much standard Asimovs fayre, or, indeed, even leaning towards an Analog-y story. His story focusses on two or three of the main characters who are to be the first representatives of humanity on another planet.

There’s political depth to the story in terms of the planet they’ve left behind, and some interpersonal depth, in terms of the partners that have been left behind. There’s also some intriguing science around what they find on the planet on which they make landfall. In an ansible-less environment, how they respond to the politics back on Earth (or the politics as they were some decades ago when the radio messages were sent), is the issue at the end of the story (nb check the story title).

So, all in all, a bit too much of a pretty well-covered sf trope than we have had from Liu at his best.

D. Thomas Minton. Observations on a Clock.

First story in Asimovs for Minton, which muses on faith, specifically the maintenance of ultimate faith against the temptations to test that faith.

Robert Reed. Murder Born.

22,000 words of tense, nerve-shredding tension from Reed that wrings the reader emotionally dry by the conclusion. It’s a dark, dark story, and the introduction mentions the lukewarm editorial response to an initial novel proposal around this subject, with a lot being requested to be taken out. Reed has kept that stuff in, and imho shouldn’t be pitching novels to those people again.

He looks at societal and individual response to murderers, focussing through an sfnal device that sees an unintended consequence of a new hi-tech method of capital punishment being the resurrection of those they they have killed. That could have been a fairly tricky thing to carry off in terms of suspension of belief, but Reed eases this into a story that has already had the tension racked up by a teenage girl having gone missing.

Reed’s photographer protagonist is handled well, as is his relationship with his ex-wife and her new partner. Reed inserts into the narrative descriptions of his photographs, and it slowly becomes obvious as to what they are. It’s a complex story, and doesn’t go for an obvious happy ending, and it’s one of Reed’s best for some time.

Good issue, with Reed the pick of the bunch.

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