Asimov's Science Fiction - October/November 2010 - Vol. 34 Nos. 10 & 11 - (Whole Number 417)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: NASA
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Magazine ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 23 September 2010 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The October/November 2010 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Rick Wilber, Tanith Lee, Will McIntosh, Kij Johnson, Mike Resnick, Don D'Ammassa, Felicity Shoulders, R. Neube, Kate Wilhelm, and Ferrett Steinmetz, along with the usual columns.
Asimov’s Science Fiction‘s October/November 2010 issue and is an especially good one, with two Hugo-worthy stories.
It's always a good thing when an issue begins with a story by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and "Becoming One With The Ghosts" is a very good thing. When the Fleet ship Ivoire lands at Sector Base V for repairs, they find it entirely abandoned. They find this strange as they had left it only a month ago before their encounter with a race called Quurzod. The encounter had left them badly damaged and they only got to the base because they were guarded by the anacopa drives on both the ship and the base. The anacopa works by creating a fold in space. This involves traveling in time, too. From their viewing ports they see an abandoned station and a woman investigating it. As the story unfolds, we learn more and Rusch introduces us to some good characters. As always, she tells us an interesting story and shows us a universe I'd like to see more of.
There are many "Names for Water" in the story by Kij Johnson and she tries everyone of them when she gets a cell phone call that seems only white noise, but she is sure is a body of water. This was a nice little piece with a nice little ending.
You can always count on Mike Resnick for a great story and "The Incarceration of Captain Nebula" certainly qualifies there. We get a story from two points of view. One is from a man who calls himself Captain Nebula, the other from a Dr. Weaver who is trying to understand Captain Nebula's delusion that he is a great hero who has come to Earth to defeat the evil villains Tzandor and Drago. The end is pure Resnick and I won't spoil it.
"No Distance Too Great" by Don D'Ammassa features a man named Jason Tallant who is making a journey in hyperspace. He deeply misses his late wife, Kathy, and carries her ashes to a planet so that she can finally visit one, if only in death. Traveling in hyperspace involves viewing an illusionary landscape, one that is affected by the travelers' states of mind. Normally, such trips are uneventful, but not this one. The captain and crew find themselves blocked by the "landscape" and cannot go forward. Relief trips cannot find them. D'Ammassa gives us a very good finish to this one.
In "Dummy Tricks" by R. Neube, Hal Koenigson harvesting "ice cobras" from the frozen wastes of New Tahiti. He can do this because he is immune to the Strumming and electromagnetic storm that causes insanity in most humans. His immunity results from a drug-induced coma and he is regarded as a Dummy. He encounters some pirates risking their lives to make a quick fortune and we find out who the real dummies are. This was a nice little tale.
Felicity Shoulders pulls off something special in "The Termite Queen of Tallulah County" and that's why I'll put this one on my Hugo short list for short story next year. Lacey Tidwell is now the sole proprietor and employee of Tidwell and Daughter, after her father had some sort of attack that left him a vegetable. The family business is termite exterminating. On one call, Lacey finds such extensive damage that she uses a relatively new part of the business, a Temporal Intervention Device, to travel back in time and prevent the damage ever happening. What impressed me was the fact that what I thought was an anachronistic mistake on the author's part, turned out to be a deliberate plot point. More important, this story had a lot of heart, and that's always important to me.
Tanith Lee gives us one of her classic stories in "Torhec the Sculptor". Set in some future society, in which Christmas falls on the 23rd of Endember (the thirteenth month), It tells of a rich man named Aamon van Glanz who has everything one could want. In this society is a sculptor named Torhec who has made a practice of destroying all his sculptures after an exhibition. No picture or any image of them survives. Aaomon offers Torhec two million regulars to keep one of his sculptures. He promises to never even take it out of its crate, never look at it. Torhec agrees but stipulates that he must be paid by an old fashioned paper check. This is the kind of story that need a really good payoff, one you can't see coming. This does and it makes my Hugo shortlist for novelettes for next year.
The other novelette in this issue is by Will McIntosh. At the Worldcon, last month, he won the Hugo for Best Short Story for his "Bridesicle". In second place was Mike Resnick's "The Bride of Frankenstein". So it is the height of irony that his contribution here is "Frankenstein, Frankenstein" and Resnick has a story in this issue, too! Set in 1893, the story opens on a traveling act with a man named Darby claiming to be the grandson of Victor Frankenstein and that his companion, Phineas Gage, is the famous monster. Gage is actually a man who survived an explosion that threw a railroad spike into his head. There it sticks as proof he is the monster. They are impressing the rubes in the countryside when they come upon someone else claiming to be the monster. He is Graves Anderson, a very tall man who had been horribly scarred. They team up to stage a fight between them, impressing the rubes that are nearby. They are off to the Chicago World's Fair where they get another surprise. This was a great little story with details about the first American World's Fair and some interesting characters.
Kate Wilhelm shows her prodigious talent in "Changing the World". Mel is a man with too much time on his hands. He is amazed at the gullibility of people to conspiracy theories and decides to come up with one of his own. It involves aliens infiltrating Earth, starting in 1940. What happens is beyond his wildest dreams, or nightmares. Wilhelm is one of the genre's best storytellers and we see that here.
David Carlisle is a jock in a high school of the future who finds himself "Under the Thumb of The Brain Patrol" in the story by Ferrett Steinmetz. The science whizzes actually bully the jocks, making life hellish for David and his friend Allie. David is pleased when the queen of the brainy kids, Valencia, asks his brawny help with an experiment. Allie has her doubts but David goes ahead anyway. This all lead to a clever little story.
"Several Items of Interest" by Rick Wilber takes place in a future in which Earth has been conquered by a race called the S'huddoni. Peter Holman, our narrator has been called by Twoclicks, the Chancellor of the American District to a meeting on Twoclick's palatial estate on S'hudon. He has been writing reports that were sent to Earth to popularize Twoclick's benevolent dictatorship. It seems Peter's brother, Tommy, has been rebelling against Twoclick, but all that could lead to is the territory being taken over by Twoclick's less benevolent brother. Peter must go to Earth to talk to his brother. There is more than that happening and Wilber does a great job in spinning out the whole tale for us.
Sheila Williams has put together a great issue. I can't wait for the next one. You should really subscribe to Asimov's and find out what comes next.