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Asimov's Science Fiction - July 2011 - Vol. 35 Nos. 7 - (Whole Numbers 426)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: NASA
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 23 May 2011

Links: Asimov's Science Fiction / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The July 2011 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Chris Beckett, Paul Cornell, Theodora Goss, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Norman Spinrad, Josh Roseman, Leah Cypress, and Bruce McAllister along with the usual columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction's July 2011 issue has got more great stories, one of them Hugo-worthy!

The issue begins with the novelette "Day 29" by Chris Beckett. Stephen Kohl works for the Agency on the planet, Lutania. He's worked in his office for three years and is due to be shipped out soon. No one will really miss him. He will be "transmitted" to his next location in a process he has undergone before. It's very safe but has one side effect. You might not remember anything starting 40 days before your transmission. You will definitely not remember anything from 29 days before. Stephen is not happy about this. He decides to do something different from Day 40 until Day 29. Does it help? I won't say but this was an interesting character study.

In "Pug" by Theodora Goss, we are introduced to Anne de Bourgh, a 19-year old girl with a heart condition that severely limits her life, This being the early nineteenth century, that is not likely to improve. She lives a dull life at the family estate at Rosings but when a small dog named Pug shows up on the grounds, things change. He shows her a door which leads to other parts of England, even to the near past and near future. She meets the Martin girls (Mary & Eliza) who live at Abbey-Mill Farm and they have some adventures together. The story doesn't have much of an ending, but is beautifully told and enjoyable to read.

You always know you're going to get something good from Kristine Kathryn Rusch and "Dunyon" is her in top form. It's the simplest of stories. Our narrator is unnamed and all we know is that she is a former soldier and the owner of a bar on a station being flooded by desperate refugees from a galactic war. One night, someone comes into the bar asking about passage to a place called Dunyon. Our narrator has never heard of it. After many more inquiries, she decides to do some research of her own at one of the station's information kiosks. To say any more would ruin this great little story with a good sting at the end. I liked this one, so much, that it will be on my Hugo short list for next year.

"The Music of the Sphere" by Norman Spinrad is the story of two people, musician Mario Roca, who wants to produce music that has such a low frequency that it's inaudible, and marine biologist Caroline Koch who is seeking a way to communicate with dolphins and whales. Through luck, they meet and they combine to produce something wonderful. This was a beautiful tale from an old pro.

"Bring on the Rain" by Josh Roseman takes place sometime in the mid-22nd Century, years after Earth had been hit for two days by a solar flare, killing three-quarters of the population and rendering all the surface water undrinkable. William is part of a fleet of land ships that constitute Demetrius Colony, nomads that scour the desert surface, looking for big rain storms. He is in charge of computer models that predict when they will occur. It's a nasty world in which competing colonies fight vicious battles over water and we get a taste of it in this well-written story.

Leah Cypess gives us a look into how horrible junior high might be in the future in "Twelvers". Darla has become the target of bullying because the other seventh-grade students have figured out that she's a "Twelver", someone left in an artificial womb for twelve months instead if nine. It was first thought that this was a good thing, but it wound up with a side effect. Since their first three months of life were stress-free, that meant they would not have stress reactions and would just seem eerily calm. This makes life difficult for Darla until she figures how to deal with it. Cypess effectively captures Darla's character and weaves a good narrative about it.

In "The Messenger" by Bruce McAllister, Tim, a 50-year-old man travels back in time, to meet his mother who committed suicide when he was only six months old. He can't change history, but he can talk with her. This was a very touching story with real heart. Good job, Mr. McAllister.

"The Copenhagen Interpretation" by Paul Cornell is, apparently, the third in a series, set in a Europe that is modern day or later, but with a pre-WWI diplomatic culture. There is also some space travel and other future technology. Our hero is Jonathan Hamilton, an operative for the British Empire. He is sent to deal with a woman who has shown up at the British Embassy in Copenhagen, a woman with a secret named Lustre Saint Clair. Hamilton had an affair with her 15 years previously before she disappeared. She has not aged a day. This was a fun story but I might have liked it better if I was more familiar with the background. You have to read between the lines to know a lot of what is being referred to.

Asimov's Science Fiction scan be picked up at your local bookstore. Better yet, subscribe!

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