Asimov's Science Fiction - April/May 2010 - Vol. 34 Nos. 4&5 - (Whole Number 411&412)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Duncan Long
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 24 March 2010
Links: Asimov's Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Asimov's Science Fiction's April/May 2010 issue is another good one with stories you will enjoy.
The fiction begins "The Union of Soil and Sky" by Gregory Norman Bossert, the first published story by an imaginative new author. Winifred, Inanna, Ant, John, and Mort are archeologists on the planet Aulis. Assisted by a native they call Henry, they are trying to uncover as much as they can before the mining company unearths the entire area. This is complicated by factors that they would not find on Earth. The story starts a little slow, but ends as an exciting adventure and discovery of something the archeologists could not anticipate. Bossert shows he has some talent and I will be looking forward to his stories in the future.
In "Unforseen", Molly Gloss shows us a near-future in which it is possible to bring dead people back to life if they have sufficient flesh left to permit it. This is an expensive procedure that only the rich can afford. Forbes Kipfer is a claims adjuster with NewLife, an insurance company that sells Remediable Death policies to people in the event they are killed in a way that no one could have possibly foreseen. There are a lot of exclusions to this and most claims are rejected. Our story consists of one such claim and the interview that Kipfer has with the daughter of a deceased. As someone familiar with insurance, I especially appreciated Gloss's familiarity with how just such a coverage might work. Even better, she tells a very good story about it.
Eugene Fischer's "Adrift" is set in some near future in which products are shipped from one place to another in large nodules through a system called FloatNet. Janet Candle is the administrator of a platform in the middle of the ocean called Platform Beryl. One night, she is called by her assistant, Henri, on a matter that needs her attention. It seems three refuges from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have fled that country's civil war and stowed away on a container with the hope that they might seek asylum in the United States. But they did not get there and are in the middle of the ocean. Janet, Henri and others at the platform get to know the three young people, Laurent, Therese and Nagaila Mokina and grow to care about them. This is the first print publication for Fischer and he has crafted a fine little story. He is another new author that I hope to see more of.
"They Laughed at Me in Vienna and Again in Prague, and Then in Belfast, and Don't Forget Hanoi! But I'll Show Them! I'll Show Them All, I Tell You!” by Tim McDaniel certainly gets an award for being a long title. The story is a wild romp through a series of lectures by a mad scientist named Clive Crawley to meetings of the World Science Conference beginning in Vienna in 1954 and moving through Prague in 1976 and Belfast in 1996, ending in Hanoi in 2034. His colleagues continue to think he's a kook, but we know he's more than that in this thoroughly amusing story.
In "Mindband" by Pamela Sargent, Chris Szekely is a television news anchor who has returned to an area where she had lived four year ago. At that time, in the town of Hannaford, a mob of people had rioted, taken over a mall, and then stood on a bridge and stamped their feet. The bridge collapsed and more than a thousand people died. Chris was in the crowd but survived and is haunted by memories of it. She is staying at a bed and breakfast in the neighboring town of Westview, across the street from a building housing a business called MindData Associates, run by a mysterious old man named Matthew Bigelow Elmendorf. She has become convinced that the company, which had been located in Hannaford at the time, was responsible for what happened on the bridge. She meets other people, some visiting like her and others recently moved to the area, and, also, finds that the company has had a positive economic impact on the town. Sargent creates a number of good characters here, but I found the end a bit disappointing.
The "Malick Pan" in the story by Sara Genge is much like another Pan, a boy who won't grow up. He is able to convince nanobots (that he calls nanners) to keep him small to better survive in some post-apocalyptic future. He cares for a girl named Nelly and wants to save her from an evil man named Nestor. This was a good story although Malick cares about others more than Peter ever did.
Barry B. Longyear, whose stories I first read in Asimov's thirty years ago, contributes this month's novelette, "Alten Kameraden". In the introduction, we are told that he was inspired by reading about a historical crime scene that could not have taken place as it was told. The story sets out in September of 1918, when Kurt Wolff takes out a British sniper before he can kill a German lance corporal whose name we all know. It flashes forward to Berlin on April 30, 1945 and Wolff is asked to fix the ventilation system of a certain bunker. Longyear fashions a good story here, as he always does.
Robert Reed contributes his unique form of storytelling to "Pretty to Think So". Cory is a young boy awakened by his father in the middle of the night and being told to wake up and get dressed, that they had to make an "emergency trip to Disneyland". Of course, that is not really what is happening and we slowly get some details as the story shifts from Cory to his parents to a woman who works on the President's Secret Service detail. I won't give away further details but just say that Cory is not disappointed and neither is the reader.
Steven Popkes concludes the issue with a wonderful tale called "Jackie's-Boy". In some near future in which climate change and plagues have killed almost all of the humans and a lot else, Michael Ripley is an eleven-year old boy who sneaks into the Saint Louis Zoo one night and meets up with a robotic Keeper named Ralph and a genetically-enhanced, intelligent, talking elephant named Jackie. Eventually, Jackie and Michael head south looking for more of Jackie's kind and have some great adventures. Popkes does a great job here with Jackie and Michael, and makes us care about them.
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