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Asimov’s Science Fiction – July 2012 – Vol. 36 Nos. 7 – (Whole Numbers 438)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Tomislav Tikulin
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 24 May 2012

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

The July 2012 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Megan Lindholm, Allen Steele, Robert Reed, Benjamin Crowell, Steven Utley, Michael Blumlein and Felicity Shoulders, along with the usual poetry and columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction's July 2012 issue is here and it's another good one.

The fiction in the issue begins "Old Paint" by Megan Lindholm. In the 2030s, our narrator is a young girl living with her mother and brother in subsidized housing. The mother works hard and scrimps and saves to keep them going. Then, the mother's grandfather dies and leaves her his old car. He hadn't driven it in years, but it's a somewhat intelligent car that looks like an old woody station wagon. The mother loves the old car and even refers to it as 'him'. The car eventually gets named Old Paint and seems like a member of the family. A computer virus causes many cars to act wildly and even Old Paint takes off on his own. But there's more to the story than that. It's a sweet, sentimental, heart-warming tale and a great way to start the issue.

"The Girl in the Park" by Robert Reed is another one of those unique tales that only Robert Reed could write. It begins with a man talking with his father whose memory is impaired. He tells him about a dream he had of a girl he met in the park when he was pushing the man in a stroller when he was very young. The father is worried about what happened to the girl and that he did nothing to prevent her from taking a wrong step. This isn't the first time our narrator had heard the story. The story takes place in a near future in which many things have gone wrong in the world. What makes the story special is what happened to this girl. This was another fine one from one of the best in the business.

"Kill Switch" by Benjamin Crowell takes place in a future in which people have had genetic modifications to promote certain talents. Jo and Chris are both musical but the genmods produced deleterious effects and they have to take medication. They want to have a baby but genmods are expensive and they move to Nebraska where they can afford it. The story seems to amble around and we get to know something about Job and Chris, but I don't think it ever comes together.

"Alive and Well, A Long Way from Anywhere" by Allen Steele is, we are told, part of his Near Space series. It opens with the death of a man named Jerry Stone (full name Jeremiah Edward Stone). That fact is made known from a signal from a place called Stone House that is located on the asteroid 2010 TK7, some 40,362,000 miles from Earth. Our narrator is Stone's employee of 43 years and he tells us the story of his relationship with the deceased. Stone was the founder of a private space corporation called ConSpace. He had lived as a recluse on the asteroid, accompanied by his foxges (Zero-G adapted Foxes) for 43 years with our narrator as his only contact. We get a nice little story about the Stone, our narrator and the future history they are a part of. It all ties up very nicely for another excellent tale from Steele.

"Zip" by Steven Utley is a time travel story. Our narrator and two companions travel back in time to see an ancient civilization that gapes at them. Just before they travel back further, they see that world disintegrate and a flash. What is happening? Back further in the past, it happens again. Should they keep running back into the past, all the way to the Big Bang? If they stopped, would they disintegrate, too, or would this "tear in time" cease? This was interesting, but there is no way to end a story like this.

"Bird Walks in New England" by Michael Blumlein is told by a woman who falls in love with a man she calls 'her knight' and marries him. They are different, even in the beginning, but she does not let that bother her, at first. They have a daughter, Melissa. They begin to grow apart. He had been an avid birder and she had gone on walks with him even though she was not as interested in birds. When she becomes an avid birder and president of the local Audobon Society, his interest dies out. By the time their daughter is a grown woman, they separate. It is on a long walk that she sees a very strange bird, one no one had seen before. This changes her life, but I won't say more. I will say that this was a beautiful, lyrical tale that I enjoyed immensely.

The table of contents list "Long Night on Redrock" by Felicity Shoulders with the short stories but its 27 pages make it close to novella length. Peder and Lise are ex-marines on a planet called Redrock making a living raising something called 'aynids' which we learn little about. That's because their children are kidnapped by a man named Ando to sell into off-world prostitution for their red hair and freckles. The chase is on over a barren desert called Sector 103 with two perils. One is sandstorms. The other is nightmarish visions and simulacra caused by something underneath the surface. This has an effect on all concerned. This also causes a lengthy flashback to Peder's and Lise's marine days that is supposed to flesh out their characters but, for me, just distracts from the main story. No surprises here at the end in what seemed to me to be a very contrived story.

There are enough good stories here that I still recommend, subscribe to Asimov's.

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