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Asimov's Science Fiction – October/November 2011 – Vol. 35 Nos. 10 & 11 – (Whole Numbers 429 & 430)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Paul Youll
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Magazine  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 27 August 2011

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

The October/November 2011 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kij Johnson, Kit Reed, Eleanor Arnason, Dominica Phetteplace, Jason K. Chapman, Eugene Mirabelli, Jack Skillingstead, Derek Künsken and Nancy Kress along with the usual columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction's October/November 2011 issue and it's got some great stories.

The issue begins with the novella "Stealth" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. In the introduction, we are told it involves "the dangerous and destructive technology" that was first encountered in "Diving into the Wreck" that was in their December 2005 issue. It's also a follow-up to "Becoming One with the Ghosts" in their October/November 2010 issue. Rosealma was instrumental in the Empire investigating stealth tech, something that has been lost in time. The research has resulted in the loss off hundreds of lives and Rosealma is horrified by that. She is executing a plan to stop the Empire but she did not reckon with the presence of her ex-husband. Quint, who knows her all too well. What new can I say about Kristine Kathryn Rusch? She's one of the best in the business and this story is another example of why I think so.

"The Cult of Whale Worship" by Dominica Phetteplace is a first sale and quite a good debut. Tetsuo is a medical researcher who experiments on rats. He has an agenda of his own, however, and wants to find a way to stop people from eating whale meat. How this is accomplished makes for a well-written tale.

"The Petty Pace" by Jason K. Chapman starts out with Kyle seeing a projected image in the middle if a coffee table. It warns him not to go to Paris. He wasn't planning to, but the meaning of the message soon becomes clear. As the story unfolds, Kyle is visited by this image more times and begins to see the possibility of a ghastly future that he is ultimately responsible for. Chapman concludes this one in an absolutely perfect way.

What is "The Outside Event" in the story by Kit Reed? Cynthia LaMott wonders this when she is chosen to participate in Strickfield, a writer's colony and competition. Told from Cynthia's point of view, we are given a wild ride with the other participants in the competition and Cynthia's efforts to best them. Reed is a very literary writer and this story shows it. Indeed, it was something quite different but also quite good.

Next up is "The Pastry Chef, The Nanotechnologist, The Aerobics Instructor, and The Plumber" by Eugene Mirabelli, whose "The Palace in the Clouds" I enjoyed so much in the September 2010 issue. The pastry chef is Samantha Giardino who lives with Cyrus Kleiner, the nanotechnologist. One morning, Samantha remarks that the water from her faucet is speaking Italian. Cy hears nothing and suggests she get a plumber, which she has no intention of doing. He also thinks she needs to lose 10 pounds and signs her up for an aerobics class. This provides Kate Swift, to teach her aerobics and Jens Stillsen, as the plumber. There's also Zeno Avakian, a linguist, who verifies the Italian from the faucet and other languages from the toilet and the shower. All this comes together for a delightful fun story in which all of them (and a forensic accountant) wind up happy.

The "Free Dog" in Jack Skillingstead's story is Cory, Larson's beloved poodle. He has divorced his wife Kritsine and maintained possession of the dog, but the ex-wife has the right to keep an "information-ized" copy. She likes her virtual version so much, she sends a copy to her friend who, in turn, uploads it to the internet. Now called Corky, the virtual dog goes viral much to Larson's frustration. The story takes an unexpected turn as Larson discovers something about himself and that is what makes this very special.

In "My Husband Steinn" by Eleanor Arnason, Signy is a journalist who normally lives in Reykjavik. She has a summer home in the East Fjords, out in the middle of nowhere. She wants to write a "magical realist novel about Iceland in the twentieth century" but can't seem to settle on what to write. When a dead swan with his neck broken is left at her door, her adventures begin. They involve trolls and, later, other mythic beings. This all develops into a beautifully written magical realist story, set in Iceland that I enjoyed immensely.

Derek Künsken gives us an amusing social satire in "To Live and Die in Gibbontown". In a world inhabited by various types of simians (post-human, we are told on the introduction), Reggie is a businessman and a macaque. Murray is his chimpanzee assistant. They are in the euthanasia business, something that is completely legal. Their twist on the business is not to use the normal euthanasia techniques which involve things like needles and drugs. He makes it exciting by stalking and assassinating you. They are hired by the mother of the bonobo ambassador who thinks they are phonies and poseurs, which they are. I won't say how it all comes out but just say that it was a pretty funny ride to the end.

"A Hundred Hundred Daisies" by Nancy Kress is a short story about a possible near future in which a sudden temperature drop in the Pacific Ocean has caused a drought in the United States. Water is at a premium and those with money are getting it at the expense of those that don't have money. All this is told from the viewpoint of Danny and Ruthie. Danny is a bit older than Ruthie and can remember when there were daisies. Kress tells a affecting, poignant story here.

This double issue concludes with an imaginative and inventive novella, "The Man Who Bridged The Mist" by Kij Johnson. Set on some alien planet on which humans live in a pre-technological society, the story focuses on Kit Meinem of Atyar, an engineer from the capital of the Empire, sent to oversee the construction of a bridge over the mist. This mist is actually substantial enough to ride ships over it and contains creatures no one has seen and lived. One of the people he befriends (and more) is a woman named Rasali Ferry, who runs a ferry service across the mist from Nearside to Farside, where the bridge will go. The bridge will, in fact, put the out of the risky business of ferrying. Johnson does a good job with her characters and makes us curious enough to want more stories set in this world. This was a good strong finish to the magazine.

Do I have to say it again? Subscribe to Asimov's!

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