Asimov's Science Fiction - January 2011 - Vol. 35 Nos. 1 - (Whole Number 420)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Tomislav Tikulin
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 25 November 2010
Links: Asimov's Science Fiction / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Asimov's Science Fiction's January 2011 issue has some more fine stories.
The issue begins with the novelette, "Two Thieves" by Chris Beckett. The titular characters are Shoe and Pennyworth who gave themselves up during an unsuccessful robbery, expecting leniency, only to find themselves exiled to an penal island known as the Last Resort. There they are given the task of removing stones from an archeological site that is a remnant of the Old Empire before the Great Calamity brought it down. They are warned they might encounter some advanced technology. They actually do in the form of a well that opens into nothingness. Their supervisor warns that the well may be a gateway. Seeking escape they jump into the nothingness and are transported elsewhere. Their adventures begin. I liked this story but it ends rather abruptly.
Billionaire industrialist Clive Steele has been brutally murdered and the only one in the room with him is "Dolly" in Elizabeth Bear's story. Dolly is an advanced sex-robot, a prototype for a new model. Detectives Rosamund Kirkbride and Peter King are investigating the case. They find out some very interesting things in this solid bit of writing from Bear.
In Steve Rasnic Tem' "Visitors", Marie and Walt are visiting their son who has been in cryogenic sleep. Sleepers like him are periodically awakened for various medical reasons and loved ones can talk with them . Their son, Tommy, is not physically ill, but mentally so. He has committed monstrous crimes and he is there until he gets "better". This was a sad, bittersweet story that only as talented a writer as Tem could write.
In "Interloper" by Ian McHugh, Barnestable's Traveling Mutant Freak Show and Circus is really a front, searching Australia's outback for people who can be used by Interlopers from another dimension for tearing down the Veil that separates our world and theirs. One of their number can sense those that they need to take away to protect. Things do not go easy because of an old tie between one of the troupe and someone in the town. This was a good story but could have used a little more detail about what was going on.
"Ashes on the Water" by Gwendolyn Clare is a sad story about a young girl named Riti, who wants do do right by the ashes of her dead sister, Priya. She wants to return her to the waters, but how to do that in this future hotter, drier world? This one was beautifully written and really touched the heart.
The issue concludes with the novella, "Killer Advice" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This one is a delicious murder mystery, set on an outpost in space called the Vaadum Resort and Casino, run by a man named Hunsaker. When the ship Presidio makes an unscheduled stop because of a fire, its twelve passengers and four crew need rooms. The problem is that one of them is a murderer. Three people had died aboard ship before the fire. Within hours of being checked in, one of the passengers is suffocated in her room. There is one more death until we are given the solution. If the story has one flaw, it's that there are not enough suspects. Still, it's another example of why Kristine Kathryn Rusch is one of the best in the business.
Sheila Williams has done her usual excellent job. Subscribe!