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Asimov's Science Fiction - August 2011 - Vol. 35 Nos. 8 - (Whole Numbers 427)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Jeroen Advocaat
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Magazine  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 25 June 2011

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

The August 2011 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Robert Silverberg, Melanie Tem, Lisa Goldstein, Philip Brewer, Michael Swanwick, Will Ludwigsen, and Zachary Jernigan along with the usual columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction's August 2011 issue has a number of good stories.

The issue begins with the novelette, "The End of the Line" by Robert Silverberg. This is a Majipoor story. We are told it predates the events of "The Time of the Burning" from the March 1982 issue and that it is the first in a series of new tales that will be collected in the upcoming Tales of Majipoor. Stiamot is a councilor to the Coronal Lord Strelkimar, who is going on a tour of remote towns. Stiamot is an advance man who is trying to find out something about the Metamorphs, the Shapeshifter original inhabitants of the planet, who call themselves the Piurivar. He learns much from an old man named Mundiveen, of the Purivar and the Coronal. All this is a prelude to a life-changing event for Stiamot and the beginning of a war with the Purivar. I have always enjoyed the stories and novels about Majipoor and this one was no exception.

"Corn Teeth" by Melanie Tem is not an easy read as it's done in the voice of a child named Sonya. Her and her brother, Todd, were abandoned by their parents. She is very happy though, as they are going to be adopted by members of an alien race called Alayayxans. They have three genders and are very different from humans. Sonya is convinced that when she is adopted, she will turn into an Alayayxan. I won't say more other than this was very touching and that Sonya is a well-drawn character, another triumph for Melanie Tem.

Philip Brewer's "Watch Bees" is set in some future America in which something has happened to change how people live. David is from Michigan where his family needs help with the breed of bees that they have. He hires on to a family in Illinois that has the breed of watch bees that he needs. Things are complicated when he falls in love with the farmer's daughter. This was an okay story but not particularly interesting.

"For I Have Lain Me Down on the Stone of Loneliness and I'll Not Be Back Again" by Michael Swanwick is a story of Ireland. It takes place in a future in which Earth was conquered by aliens. Our narrator has the chance to leave Earth, but he wants to visit the land of his sires before that. In Ireland, he meets a woman named Mary O'Reilly who is much like the Irish rebels of old, but now the enemy is the aliens. This brought the story and tragedy of Ireland into a somewhat futuristic setting and worked pretty well that way.

"We Were Wonder Scouts" by Will Ludwigsen is a delightful little tale narrated by a man, now older, who was a boy in 1928. His father discourages his interest in fantasy and anything outside the everyday, but he manages to join a group called the Wonder Scouts, kind of a paranormal version of the Boy Scouts. It's headed up by that great writer of the paranormal, Charles Fort. They go on a camping trip to the Adirondacks to an area where a number of young girls have disappeared. Our narrator has quite an adventure by himself and I found this one of the best stories in this issue.

In "Pairs" by Zachary Jernigan, Arihant (our narrator) and Louca are the only two humans who have a physical form. Louca is actually the ship that Arihant travels in, outside of which he is just a ghost. They have been carrying the disembodied souls (stored in a projection cube) of a destroyed Earth for 300 years, it now being 2432. Their employer is an alien named Slaf'Salakem and Arihant hates him. This story just did not draw me in and I was glad to be done with it.

The issue concludes with "Paradise is a Walled Garden" by Lisa Goldstein. This is an alternate history story in which the Spanish Reconquista in 1236 never happened. The Arabs still control all of what is Spain but the province of Léon (which calls itself Spain). The Arabic Spain is al-Andalus and they have advanced science using steam to amazing lengths. The England of Queen Elizabeth I knows none of the Arab science but uses their "homunculi" to manufacture everything. When the homunculi in a factory start wrecking things, all manufacturing is shut down and Elizabeth sends a team to al-Andalus to ask them what went wrong. The team includes Tip who witnessed the homunculi's malfunction. Tip is a girl disguising herself as a boy, she discovers some fascinating things in al-Andalus and we get a nice little story.

While I may not have liked all the stories in this issue of Asimov's, on the whole it was well worth reading. Their track record is so good, you really should subscribe!

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