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Asimov's Science Fiction - June 2010 - Vol. 34 Nos. 6 - (Whole Number 413)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Michael Carroll
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 23 April 2010 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The June 2010 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Stephen Baxter, Allen M. Steele, Benjamin Crowell, Kit Reed, Chris Beckett, Peter Friend, and Anna Tambour along with the usual columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction's June 2010 issue is its got some very good stuff.

The stories begin with "The Emperor of Mars" by Allen M. Steele. This takes place in 2048 and tells the story of Jeff Halbert, a contract worker at Arisa Station, the first and largest of the colonies on Mars. A short time into his contract, Jeff gets word that his parents, wife and unborn son were killed by a drunk driver. He is devastated but the next ship back to Earth does not come for seventeen months and it would be two years in total before he could return. He must just remain and do his job. He winds up accompanying the team to retrieve NASA's Phoenix Lander that landed on Mars in 2008. In it is a DVD of science fiction works that have to do with Mars. That part is actually true. Jeff retrieves the DVD and starts reading the stories from it, becoming especially fascinated by the most fanciful ones, like the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories. He eventually asks people to regard him as "Emperor of Mars" and, as this is an entirely benign thing, they do. All this sets up a very touching and wonderful story that I'm sure you'll enjoy as much as I did.

"Petopia" by Benjamin Crowell is a wild tale set in a near future. Mina lives as an immigrant in some French-speaking country and makes a living taking drives out of discarded computers. She finds a small purple creature like robot named Jelly who she takes home. Her brother puts Jelly to some good use and begins to make some money on his own. They all find a way to improve things for themselves in this fun story.

The always good Kit Reed gives us an amusing tale in "Monkey Do". The story is told by a hack writer named Billy Masterton who can never seem to find success in writing. He had bought a pet monkey as inspiration for one novel and now can't get rid of it. The monkey's name is Spud. He's been a pest and a nuisance but Billy finds that the monkey can actually write prose. He hooks it up to software that can help it write and, of course, the monkey becomes a big success. This one was very amusing and a good satiric look at writing.

A man named Tawus wears "The Peacock Cloak" in the story by Chris Beckett and strides through a created land to meet his creator, or a version of him, a man named Fabbro. In the past, Fabbro had created a virtual world and populated it with seven versions of himself, Tawus and his brothers and sisters. They had started out benign but soon started to rule the people of this world causing death and destruction. Now, Tawus confronts his originator, actually a copy of him. This was a fairly interesting story.

The title of the next story, "Voyage to the Moon", would appear to promise something we've seen before, but in this story by Peter Friend, we get something very different. First of all, this is set on some alien world with creatures very different from us. Even stranger is the journey and stranger still is the destination. I won't go into any other detail so as not to spoil it. So just read it and expect something decidedly different and delightful.

"Dreadnought Neptune" by Anna Tambour seems to be about Jules and his son Eugene, waiting for something to happen to a spaceship called Dreadnought Neptune. The story was just a bit too vague for me to appreciate.

The issue concludes with the novella, "Earth III" by Stephen Baxter. In the introduction to this story, we are told that it and "Earth II" from the July 2009 issue are "separate pendants" to the author's novel Ark which has just been published by Ace Books. This one features another world settled by people from Earth, although most of them do not know it. There is a religion that silent figures called "Designers and Controllers... designed the world and created all the people in it". There are some, though, that believe the world was settled by humans from another planet, based in fragments of writings by a woman named Helen Gray. Vala is a Sapphire, destined to be a perpetual virgin and is the daughter of Elios, Speaker of Speakers, and head of the dominant religion of the planet. She does not want a boring life and has convinced Brod (son of Maryam who is a representative of the traders in Port Wilson, one of the most important ports on the planet) to take her away. They are accompanied by Tripp, a Polar in that she lives in the Polar Region. Tripp is expert in the writings of Helen Gray and wants to take a journey to the opposite side of the world which is in perpetual darkness. Pursued by Khilli, Vala's brutish brother, they are off on a wonderful voyage of discovery that makes for a very good read.

This was another issue of Asimov's with very good stories. Again, I recommend that you subscribe!

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