Jim Baen's Universe April 2010
Edited by Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Garrett W. Vance
Review by Sam Tomaino
Baen ISBN/ITEM#: 1932-0930
Date: 23 April 2010
Links: Jim Baen's Universe / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The April 2010 issue of Jim Baen's Universe is the final issue of the magazine and that is a sad thing. The good news is that this is a good issue to go out on.
The Science Fiction section begins with "Afterimage" by J. Kathleen Cheney. This is a murder mystery, set in a near future. Detective William Greene is called in when a lawyer named DeVane Michaelson is found dead. He had been killed by an electromagnetic pulse device that had fried his Intelligent Medical Implant heart regulator. Greene himself has similar implants that allow him to see. Who did it? The group called Purists, who think IMI devices a "pollution of Nature's Creation"? His widow, who was divorcing him for infidelity? His secretary, with whom he had been having an affair? Greene runs into some serious trouble finding the murder in this good, solid story, the kind that has been a hallmark of Jim Baen's Universe.
There are two "Trappers" in the story by Stoney Compton. One is Caleb Pasco, a man of the 19th century, out trapping beavers or whatever he could in the American West. The other is an alien, Na'znn, searching for the fuel he needs to get home. Na'znn's mate had been killed by Caleb when she attacked him in fear. Her death had caused her ship to explode, blowing the top of a nearby mountain. That exposed a huge vein of gold that Caleb wanted for reasons obvious to us. For Na'znn, it's the fuel he needs to get home. Thus starts a battle between the two of them. The story develops into quite a good conclusion and this was another asset in this issue.
The Fantasy section has two stories. "Storming Venus" by John Lambshead is set in an alternate Earth, probably in the 19th century. Sarah Brown is a Spiritualist who can have intercourse with spirits by visiting some spirit world. She can use this to pilot ships through outer space. Captain Fitzwilliam asks her to pilot a craft to spy on a Prussian base on Venus. He fears that they are developing a dread plague. This was a grand adventure and greatly inventive with engaging characters. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The other fantasy is from one of the best of the genre, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. "Hollywood Ending" starts out in 1947 at a Hollywood back lot. Betty Nerenhauser is an assistant to a successful screenwriter, Jackson Holden Carter. One day, when they are working, four little old men walked into the office. Jackson tells Betty to take a break but she doesn't leave the room. One of the men tells Jackson that there's been a kidnapping. Betty learns nothing else because Jackson tells her to leave the room. All this sets up some incredible changes in Betty's life and even changes far beyond that. Once more, Kristine Kathryn Rusch shows just what a great writer she is.
There is also a story from a first-time author, "Little Things" by J.F. Keeping. Far out in space, on the second planet rotating around Tau Ceti, interferometry telescopes had detected an Earthlike world. Earth's people decided to colonize it, but it had to be terraformed first. Through a wormhole, they had transmitted an A.I. Named "Mick", by Chris, his controller on Earth. Things have been going well, but all of a sudden things are breaking down. When it gets worse, Mick must find out what is happening before he ceases to exist. Keeping tells a good story here and the last issue of this magazine has introduced us to one more promising new writer.
All this is rounded out by a Classic Reprint, "Parasite Planet" by Stanley G. Weinbaum. Who better to use for your last classic story than this classic author?
I'm sad to say it, but this is the last issue of Jim Baen's Universe. I've read some great stories here and could always rely on the fact that they would, at least, be a good read with solid storytelling. The genre will miss this magazine. I certainly will.
They have a good deal for one year's access to ALL their back issues for $30 and I think thatís a good deal. Or you can get just this one for $6. That's a good deal, too. So, go to their web-site at www.baens-universe.com and look those deals over!