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Jim Baen's Universe #23 - February 2010
Edited by Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Garrett W. Vance
Review by Sam Tomaino
Baen  ISBN/ITEM#: 1932-0930
Date: 19 February 2010

Links: Jim Baen's Universe / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The February 2010 issue of Jim Baen's Universe is here with stories from Gregory Benford, Shauna Roberts, Denise McCune, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Sandra M. Odell along with a classic from Manly Wade Wellman and the usual columns.

The February 2010 issue of Jim Baen's Universe is the penultimate issue of the magazine and with the quality of fiction present here, thatís a shame.

The Science Fiction section begins with "Tiny Elephants" by Gregory Benford. Our narrator tells us of a trading expedition to the melting polar ice caps. The locals there have these small elephants and our narrator trades his watch for the right to take pictures and some samples of their hair. You might figure out what is going on but this still made for a good little story.

"The Hunt" by Shauna Roberts is a game played by the children of a race called the Domeni which involves them collecting items on a list. This usually means that they are stealing them, not caring what effect that might have on people. On a place called Rimifar station, they are on the loose. Also on Rimifar are the Guild of Transmutors. They dispense a certain justice that the regular police cannot. Thadow is one of the Guild searching for a lost treasure. All this sets up a wild, fun story with good characters.

Denise McCune's "Shuffle Up and Deal" is a funny little story about a World Series of Poker final game between an alien named Fred and our narrator, just a regular guy. The stakes in this game are unusually high. We know he's building up to some sort of payoff and he does. This one is just pure fun.

The Fantasy section has just one story, "Thrill of the Hunt" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The story opens with a woman stalking a man she despises. We learn her name is (or was) Hilda and the man she is stalking is named Wulf. They are in Argentina and are both German exiles. If you think you know what this is about, you are wrong. There is another war being fought here and Rusch gives us some interesting details. As usual, Rusch does a great job at telling us a story. It's too bad that soon there will be one less place to enjoy her prose.

There is also a story from a first-time author, Sandra M. Odell, called "The Vessel Never Asks for More Wine". Eileen Adelman almost gets hit by a car when she steps off a curb but is saved by a mysterious man. She eventually meets him and he gives his name as Borgio Yilmaz and says he is Turkish. Something is odd about him and she becomes convinced he is stalking her. She meets up with him again and gets an explanation. Odell tells a good story here and shows some real imagination.

All this is rounded out by a Classic Reprint, "The Tongue Cannot Tell" by Manly Wade Wellman. I have read many of Wellman's supernatural stories, but this is pure science fiction. After being gone on a trip to the Moon for two years, John Latimer returns, but profoundly changed. Elspeth Dawes, the woman who loves him, does not understand why he can't really describe what he's seen. He insists he wants to go back to the Moon and beyond. While the science in this story is outdated, in some ways it is very modern and, once again, we are reminded that Many Wade Wellman was one of the masters of the genre.

As I've mentioned before, Jim Baen's Universe will be closing after the April 2010 issue, but they have some good subscription deals which include back issues. They can still use your support. So, go to their web-site at www.baens-universe.com and look those deals over.

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