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Asimov’s Science Fiction – February 2012 – Vol. 36 Nos. 2 – (Whole Numbers 433)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Donato Giancola
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 26 December 2011

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

The February 2012 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Robert Reed, Rudy Rucker and Eileen Gunn, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, D. Thomas Minton, Ken Liu, and Bruce McAllister and Barry Malzberg along with the usual poetry and columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction‘s February 2012 issue is another great one, with one Hugo-worthy story.

The fiction in the issue begins with the novelette, "Hive Mind Man" by Rudy Rucker and Eileen Gunn. Diane works as a claims adjuster for an insurance company. While taking a self-defense course, she meets Jeff, who really interests her. He is very in tune with the worldwide web but doesn't seem able to find a money-making job. Things get wilder when new technology allows him to influence people but Diane is worried he might be harmed in some way. This is one of the types of stories you always expect from Rucker: one wild ride.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch contributes another fine story in "The Voodoo Project". Rebekah Zahedi is forty-five years old and at the top of her profession. She has a combination of genes that give her the ability to look into the past or the future of people by just touching them. She is part of a group waging a long, covert war. In Paris, she is to meet with a group and See their future. The future is not immutable and can be changed by her actions. But when she meets the group, things change in an unexpected way.

In "Observations On A Clock" by D. Thomas Minton, Chevalier is on a religious mission, light years away from Earth. He is observing a divine machine called the Clock and is supposed to beam his revelation to Earth. He has two MEM implants that are influencing him in opposite ways. What will he do? This was a strange but interesting tale.

You will probably figure out who "The People of Pele" are in the story by Ken Liu, especially if you've read The Martian Chronicles, but that does not detract from the story. Kerry Sherman is Commander of the Columbia, a ship built by the United States that has traveled 27.8 light years to the planet that has been called Pele, in the star system of 61 Virginis. Thirty years has passed on Earth, but only six for the crew, all spent in suspended animation. Messages they get from Earth indicate that war is imminent and they should claim the planet for the U.S. but what they discover there puts a different spin on things. This was another well-written story from Liu.

In "Going Home", Bruce McAllister and Barry Malzberg gives us an epistolary story consisting of correspondence between Mitchell Litton, science fiction writer and his editor, Bob Mallet. Litton has been known for "cynical, earthbound, ankle-biting, technophobic, earthbound novels" but he wants to write old sense-of-wonder novels like in the Golden Age of Science Fiction. I won't go into any more details so as not to spoil things but just say this was one really delicious little tale.

The last story is the novella, "Murder Born" by Robert Reed. When I read in the introduction that the story was inspired by the author's thinking about people who witness the executions of convicted murderers. I was expecting something interesting. I had no idea how great a story this would be. Our narrator, Shawn, is a photo-journalist. When his daughter, Kaylee, is first, missing, and, then, found murdered, he heads home. Kaylee's boyfriend, Elijah, is convicted of the crime. At the same time, a man named Gordon Tran has invented a device called the Elysium Chamber. It can wipe out the existence of anyone put into it. When it is used on a murderer, a surprising thing happens. The murderer's victims appear at the site of where they died, just as they were except naked and hairless, with no memory of where they had been in the intervening time. Very soon, laws are rewritten to execute criminals that way so their victims might return. I'm not sure such laws would be constitutional, but I'll leave that quibble aside. Shawn becomes involved with Gordon, taking pictures of the newly returned and even developing a romantic relationship with one. As you might expect, the story builds towards the execution of Elijah. Since that happens half way through the story, you'd also expect this does not solve matters. The story just gets better and better until the end. It deals with a lot of the ramifications of such a device. This one will be added to my Hugo short list.

I'll say it again. Subscribe to Asimov's!

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