Asimov's Science Fiction - September 2011 - Vol. 35 Nos. 9 - (Whole Numbers 428)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Maurizio Manzieri
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 22 July 2011
Links: Asimov's Science Fiction / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Asimov's Science Fiction's September 2011 issue ahs one Hugo-worthy story and a lot of others well worth reading.
The issue begins with the novelette, "The Observation Post" by Allen M. Steele. Floyd Moore is an old man with terminal cancer but seeing someone on the street makes him remember something he did back in October 1962. He was part of the crew of a U.S. Naval blimp called the Centurion and they had been observing the movement of Soviet vessels near Cuba. A hurricane forced them to make temporary mooring on an island called Greater Inagua. There, Moore came across some people with strange machines. This all makes for a good story with a nice little sting at the end.
"D.O.C.S." by Neal Barrett, Jr. is a little chiller taking place in some near future. Bobby sees a van come into town with the words "Department of Curative Science" on it. He is not happy to see this van, nor is anyone else in town. There is a large crew in the van with the leaders called "docs" who seem to be there on some kind of medical mission. Bobby remembers that they came when his grandfather died. Now his mother is sick. The town is fortunate to have men they call "Doktrs", but these "docs" have authority over them. The story ends on a chilling note that I won't soon forget.
Carol Emshwiller gives us another of her little classics in "Danilo". Lewella tells her friends that she is going to be married. Her friends, including our narrator, are skeptical because they have not seen this man. Lewella just says he's from up north. She eventually says his name is Danilo and shows them all his picture. Our narrator finds herself attracted to the man in the picture, fantasizing about him. When Lewella suddenly leaves town, she follows her. What they find makes for another beautiful little tale from one of the best.
"Shadow Angel" by Erick Melton is the kind of story I hate. The author could not be bothered to write a straight narrative but shifts things around so much that I lost patience with it completely. It's not worth any more of my time.
"The Odor of Sanctity" in the story by Ian Creasey is, indeed, the old idea that saints produce a heavenly aroma from their corpse after their death. Dora has been visiting the dying Father Francesco, who served the poor of Manila. Francesco can no longer see or hear, but Dora discovers that his sense of smell is still intact. She wants to comfort him by bringing back a scent from his youth. This can be done by the use of a device called an olvac, that can record and play back odors. A shopkeeper will give her an olvac that can playback the scent of a forest in the Lombardy region where Francesco was born, but only if she will use another olvac to record his scent when he dies. This was a wonderfully written and moving short story and will be on my Hugo short list next year.
Victor Basescu always remembers what "Grandma Said" in R. Neube's story. Vic is a typical sixteen year old boy who lives on the colony of New Prozac. He works as a plague cleanser, dealing with the victims of a deadly plague called cholly's fever. Vic's grandmother had told him that he could ward off germs by laughter. Is this advice useful to Vic? You can decide on this well-written little story.
Robert Reed is one of those writers who produce very different stories and "Stalker" is a good example. Our narrator is an AI that is unbounded and bodiless that is linked to a rich, young man who is a psychopath. Or narrator is formally called an Adorer, but popularly called a Stalker. It is entirely devoted to the young psychopath and helps him get away with murder. One day, they come across a young woman named Naomi and things take a different turn. I always enjoy a Robert Reed story and this was no exception.
The last story is the third novelette, "Burning Bibles" by Alan Wall. A warehouse in Cornwall that contained King James Bibles has burned down. A man who is called Jack Henry who works for the United Kingdom's most secret agency is called to investigate because the word INFOUT was painted outside of the warehouse. This correlates to a similar fire in New Jersey. The letters may be an acronym for "Infidels Out", referring to the Middle East. Nathan, Jack's opposite number in the United States send an extraordinary man called Brother Tom. Tom is deaf and dumb but possesses what is called "intra-sensory perception", a different form of mindreading. This sets up a nice little spy/detective story with Tom an interesting character.
Well, even though I disliked one story, the Hugo-worthy one by Ian Creasey more than makes up for it, as do the other stories. You can always count on Asimov's, subscribe!