Monday, March 24, 2008


I've spent the last 4 days reading the Feb. 2008 issues of Asimov's and F&SF. I haven't dipped into either magazine since early February and it was nice to sink back into some short SF.

The Asimov's issue was in the classic mode - big name authors, a conclusion to a serialization, some short stories that really were short, and examples of both classic and idea SF. The issue started with Michael Swanwick's "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled...," about an attack that kills all humans but one and his (and his suit's - possessed by the intelligence of his dead lover) attempt to negotiate with and through aliens to survive. It's followed by a short sharp story from Nancy Kress; there's also another short not quite as sharp story from Edward M. Lerner, though only author I was unfamiliar with. "The Ray-Gun: A Love Story" by James Alan Gardner takes the idea of a kid finding an alien ray-gun and spools out a story of loneliness and heroism and love; I really liked it. Mary Rosenblum's "The Egg Man" shows a future where people in the US do what they can to survive and what one Mexican man does to help; "The Last American" by John Kessel is the story of a future President...and it's not a very nice story. Finally, Allen M. Steele concludes his Galaxy Blues in a sufficiently rousing fashion and reminds me yet again that I need to read all of his Coyote-related works.

F&SF offered up its share of goodies as well. The opening story, "Balancing Accounts" by James L. Cambias, is told from the POV of a ship trying to earn a living that gets caught up in the machinations of humans; it works very well. I love stories about books and stories about time travel, so the combination of the two in Ann Miller's "Retrospect" hit my sweet spot. When I think about writers I like, I never think about Ron Goulart. But his "Memoirs of the Witch Queen" reminds me that he always turns out entertaining stories, usually about regular guys with a few problems who get caught up in supernatural events. Matthew Hughes delivers a story not focused on Guth Bandar or Henghis Hapthorn but "Petri Parousia" still scores with a tale of a scientist who can separate the DNA of your ancestors and takes it a logical extreme (well, in one sense). A troubled marriage and dinosaurs playing soccer makes up "Bread and Circus" by Steven Popkes; a mystery surrounding even more books is at the center of the alternate world in "Philologos; or, A Murder in Bistrita" by the married writing team of Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald. Finally, Richard Bowes gives us "If Angels Fight" about the prodigal son of a great political family who still lives on 30 years after his death, ending the issue on a very strong note.

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