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Asimov's Science Fiction March 2013 Vol. 37 No. 3 (Whole Number 446)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Tomislav Tikulin
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 27 December 2012

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

The March 2013 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Alexander Jablokov, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jason Sanford, Garrett Ashley, Lavie Tidhar, and Michael Cassutt along with the usual poetry and columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction's March 2013 issue is here and it's another good one. You might be asking, "What happened to the February issue?" Well, it beats me. They sent me the pdfs for the January issue, which I reviewed. Then, they sent me the pdfs for this one. I checked my local bookstore and they don't have the February issue yet. So this is all I have. If and when I get the February issue, I'll review it.

The fiction in the issue begins with "Uncertainty" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This is another story about Moe Berg, former major league baseball catcher, on a mission for the OSS to Zurich in December, 1944, to possibly assassinate Werner Heisenberg to prevent him from developing an atomic bomb.

In the April/May 2012 issue, there was a story by Rick Wilber, "Something Real", that I liked so much that it made my Hugo short list, although not my final nominations. We are told that they received the story just as they were preparing the April/May issue so Rusch could not have known about the Wilber story. This version begins with Berg attending Heisenberg's lecture, shooting him and taking cyanide to kill himself. A woman named Leah Hammerschmidt, who seems to know more than she should, looks like she tried to save Heisenberg, but she actually helps him die.

The scene then shifts to an "Observation Post About 100 Miles East of Moscow" in "Early Winter 1943" and Leah is there again. We quickly find out that she is a time traveler. Just as she gets there, a German atomic bomb destroys Moscow. Her handler tells her that in three days bombs will also hit Leningrad and Archangel, effectively putting the Soviet Union out of the war. Germany might win the war. But her handler does not know what will happen after those bombs fall. Leah is on a mission to "fix time" and, it seems, there is another operative on a similar mission. She meets him in Copenhagen in 1941 where she stops him from killing Werner Heisenberg. Things get even more uncertain after that. I always expect a splendid story from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and I was certainly not disappointed here.

Next up is "Brother Swine" by Garrett Ashley. Straub, Namwali, Helen, and Donna live on what may have once been a farm and are starving. Then, Nawali's son, Etgar, returns to them as a pig. It's not explained but it is now a given that people come back as animals and animals might come back as people. How long this had been known is unclear but society has changed as a result. The family does not want to kill Etgar but they could get a lot of eating out of him. This was an interesting story but so much remained unexplained that it did not entirely succeed.

In "Needlework" by Lavie Tidhar, Bobby Nguyen, under a scholarship from Malaysia, studies to be a chef in the "Up and Out" (in space). In Vietnam, Nhu practices her sewing and dreams about the stars. Will they make it out there? A nice little lyrical story from one of the prime new talents in the field.

Jason Sanford contributes another great story with "Monday's Monk". In a future Thailand, where nanotech makes people immortal, a radical Buddhist group is killing people with nanos and burning the bodies to destroy the nano. Somchai is a Buddhist monk that must witness the ritual burning of the bodies. It is difficult when he sees the dead body of Tam, a woman he loved burn, only to see her smile at him as she burned. He finds that, even though only her ashes remain, she comes to him in dreams. He learns more about what is going on and finds a way to do what is right.

"Pitching Old Mars" by Michael Cassutt is, basically, a three-page monologue being spoken by a guy who is a screenwriter, trying to convince movie producers to make a movie about 'Old Mars', maybe a billion or a million years ago, when there was still life on the Red Planet. He goes through several scenarios, none of them very original, until he comes to the only possible conclusion. An amusing little piece by Cassutt, who knows Hollywood all too well.

The issue concludes with "Feral Moon" by Alexander Jablokov. Preceptor Anthony Kingman had been given a chance at redemption. A disaster at an asteroid called Kalatra had resulted in many soldiers dead. He had been court martialed and sent to prison. Now he is out to see if a bad situation on the Martian moon, Phobos, can be resolved. We get a lot about his background and that fleshes out his character very well. There is a bit of initial info-dumping, but when you get past that this develops into a pretty good story.

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