Asimov's Science Fiction- October/November 2007 – Vol. 31 No. 10 & 11 (Whole Number 381 & 382)
by Sheila Williams
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Ron Miller
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 25 September 2007
Links: Magazine Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
I'll start with Lisa Goldstein's "Dark Rooms", which will be on my Hugo shortlist next year. This is the kind of story only Goldstein could write. It begins in 1896 and continues through the 20th century and tells us about the early days of the film industry and its great pioneer, Georges Melies. A young man meets Melies and learns much from him, but he misuses this gift. Goldstein gives us a lyrical fantasy of an earlier time.
While I don't usually review reprinted stories, "Nightfall" is a special case. Some consider it the best science fiction short story ever written. It would not make my top ten. Sorry to spoil it for those that haven't read it, but how can night come to a whole planet with multiple suns even on a rare occasion? Wouldn't there still be daylight on the other side? Robert Reed contributes a more plausible story about such a planet in "Night Calls". A young man becomes involved with a religious sect and how they deal with night coming every thousand years in a much more plausible scenario. The other novelette in this issue is "Dark Integers" by Greg Egan. This is sequel to a story published twelve years ago in Asimov's which I haven't read. Still you can follow this story about a group of people who are in communication with an alternate world. The alternate world is one with different basic axioms than ours and the danger is when one sides' axioms spill into the others. Bruno, the central character is contacted by someone from the other world. There has been a leak. Who is responsible? Can the destruction of both universes be prevented?
The issue also has six short stories, all, but one, worth reading. Veteran Carol Emshwiller contributes "At Sixes and Sevens". A woman is convinced that the girl next door is a witch. Is she? Or is something more sinister going on? In Susan Forest's "Paid in Full", Freddy is indebted to Willy for saving his life, but Willy takes undo advantage of this. In a truly unique background of "animal husbandry" (which I won't spoil), Willy finds a way to resolve the situation. Carl Frederick can usually be found in Analog but "Leonid Skies" fits in well here. In a near future, a man finds a way to reconnect with this estranged son in a very special night out. Liz Williams' "Debatable Lands" seems to be a fantasy, with a young pagan warrior named Curlew sighting a very unusual questing beast. However, the story goes in a very surprising direction. "The Turn" by Chris Butler gives us a very different culture of people who have been journeying down a river for generations. They are about to come to "the Turn" which has been prophesied for as long as they have been traveling. How will that change their lives? Last we come to the one disappointing story, "Skull Valley" by Michael Cassutt. A sheriff's deputy must accompany a beautiful woman from Homeland Security on a search for a dangerous fugitive. It comes as no surprise that there is more to the story. The problem is that I found it so contrived that I just could not accept it. I've liked Cassutt's novels, but this did nothing for me.
Still, this is a very good double issue. Pick it up!