Asimov's Science Fiction - March 2010 - Vol. 34 Nos. 03 - (Whole Number 410)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Donato Giancola for The Mechanic
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 27 January 2010
Links: Asimov's Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The fiction begins "Helping Them Take the Old Man Down" by William Preston and what a great way to start a digest magazine. Our narrator is a man named Brian Lanagan who had primarily been a college professor, but who had a separate career as one of the assistants to someone referred to only as the old man. He is one of many and they all have nicknames, his being Lanny. Their exploits sound like something out of pulp fiction and as the story progresses, it becomes obvious who the old man is. I won't say who, just think of one of the two greatest pulp heroes, and not the one who could cloud men's minds. The story picks up shortly after 9/11/2001 and an agent from the government wants to know where the old man might be. Preston tells a classic story here and one that fans of pulp fiction will certainly enjoy. I know I sure did.
"Centaurs" by Benjamin Crowell is set in a future in which people live in the Neptune Trojans. Ginny is going to meet Serge, a boy she has only communicated with remotely for something like what we'd call a date. In many ways, she's a typical seventeen-year old and has to go through many of the trial and tribulations of being one. The difference is that out in space, things are a little more complicated. This was a nice little story from Crowell.
Alexander Jablokov creates an interesting future in "Blind Cat Dance". They have altered wild animals in a way that they do not perceive us and are no danger. As a result, they are allowed to run freely through civilized places. When the story opens, a cougar saunters into a cafe and no one cares, unless it is going to kill an elk or something. Our narrator (whose name we learn is Tyrell Fredrickson) seems to be a waiter in the cafe, serving the idle rich who do not notice him. We learn that he is actually, a Trainer, a man who works on changing animals. He is deeply interested in one of the idle rich named Berenika. All this comes together into a beautifully written story about nature and perception.
Well, it has an unwieldy title, but Derek Zumsteg's "Ticket Inspector Gliden Becomes the First Martyr of the Glorious Human Uprising" was fun to read. Phillip Gliden is a ticket inspector on train in a future Berlin. He is good at his job and takes pride in it. Then, he has an encounter with obnoxious aliens. Zumsteg tells us a delightful story.
Paige Summers is an eighth grader who wonders if time in dreams moves faster in "The Speed of Dreams" by Will Ludwigsen. The story is in the near future, but Paige is a lot like girls are in our era. She decides to conduct an experiment to prove her theory by timing how long her dog (a former greyhound racer) takes to run a race while sleeping. The dog will move her legs when dreaming of running. I won't say any more but will say this story will surprise you. Ludwigsen shows himself to be a talented writer.
The issue concludes with "The Tower" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, a time travel story. The Tower is the one "of London" and Neyla Kendrick wants so travel back in time to find out something about the "little princes" who were supposedly killed by Richard III. She's not going back to when they were killed, but July of 1674, when their skeletons were found. Unbeknownst to her, her team has been infiltrated by a man named Thomas Ayliffe who has larceny on his mind. He wants to steal the Crown Jewels. Rusch does not take the story to where you think it would go, but does something even better. Once more, we learn why she's one of the best.
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