Asimovs July 2014


Robert Reed. Blood Wedding.

Reed takes a Microsoft/Apple=type rivalry and extrapolates it to a horrific bloodbath. A bucolic wedding day opens the story, with the beautiful, enhanced daughter of one of two mega-billionaires being wed. When a massacre unfolds, it looks like the work of the rival mega-billionaire.

But as the story unfolds, as seen through the eyes of several characters, it’s not quite as simple as that…

The story looks at motivations, and hidden strengths, and is a page turner, and the only real issue is that there weren’t more pages to turn.

Alexander Jablokov. The Instructive Tale of the Archeologist and His Wife.

Nice to see a story from Jablokov, a rare occurrence these days.

Here he describes the life of (as you might guess from the title) an archaelogist and his wife. There’s an intriguing set up, as his life’s work revolves around studying older civilisations, ones without technology, but with folk tales of early technological civilisations, and the odd odd find on a site, confusing matters. It’s a bit like a boiled down version of Mary Gentle’s ‘Ash’, with a secret history to be found.

The story is done in an almost academic manner, an arms-length relating of the story, rather than the story itself (almost like rushing down a novel outline or draft to pitch to a publisher), but it makes for an intriguing, thoughtful read.

Evan Fuller. Five Six Seven.

The first in a series of tales, we are told, about human and corporate bodies in 2030s America.

The story, set in a Contact/Call Centre doesn’t feel some 16+ years in the future, as the themes, especially around what your insurance policy covers and does not cover.

The protagonist, Doreen is facing the challenge of medical needs that might not be covered by her workplace insurance, and needs to rectify the situation.

There’s a revelation in the closing paras where we find out some crucial information behind Doreen’s actions – and hiding information about the POV character until the end did rather irritate.

Sandra McDonald. Story of Our Lives.

An excellent story which, in structure, mood and tone, minded me of Ted Chiang’s ‘Story of Your Life’.

A reflective monologue from a 50-something gay man, revisiting his youthful days at his old alma mater, which his nephew, which involves him explaining to the young man his own beginnings.

The fantastical element is his college sweetheart’s amazing knack of reviewing films – before the films are actually made or indeed conceived elsewhere. But this is a minor element, in a story which would stand without those elements. Mind you as a 50-something man spending time these days reflecting on his early days (35 years since I saw Joy Division, now how did that happen??) maybe I’m in tune with the narrator.

Karl Bunker. The Woman from the Ocean.

A story with a simple point to make – if we could remove humanity’s obsession with ‘us’ and ‘them’, would the world be a better place?

A small village settlement (community is no longer recognised) is visited by a woman from far far away (in time), who is able to use her knowledge of what has happened to the human race, to focus the reader’s attention on the issue.

It catches a feeling nicely, but could perhaps have done with been a little subtler in terms of teasing out and revealing the issues.

M. Bennardo. How Do I Get To Last Summer From Here?

They say the past is a foreign country, but what if going back there was as simple as saying ‘there’s no place like home’, except that you don’t need a pair or ruby slippers, just the right mindset??

In this three-pager M puts a young man in a record store, who struggles to find the hook that will return him to 1995. Me, I was in the Rough Trade record shop in Spitalfields today, and bought another copy of Joy Division’s ‘Closer’ on CD, but I’m still here in 2014, and 1978 is receding further into the distance.

Allen M. Steele. The Legion of Tomorrow.

Steele, we are informed in the editorial intro, has a long fascination with the history of science fiction, and he uses his knowledge in a lengthy (overlengthy if your interest in that history isn’t as strong as his) look at the very early days of SF fandom, and shenanigens going on that result in some revelations following the death of one of SF’s elder statesmen.

Personally, I’ve found Lavie Tidhar’s shorter and more light-hearted takes on SF fandom (here and here) more to my taste.


Reed, Jablokov and McDonald the pick of the bunch for me.

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