Asimov's Science Fiction- March 2008
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Tomasz Maronski
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction ISBN/ITEM#: 10652698
Date: 24 January 2008 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The March 2008 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is here with a great story by Elizabeth Bear and some Very Good ones from Brian Stableford, Tom Purdom, Carol Emshwiller, Ian Creasey, and others.
I thoroughly enjoyed the March 2008 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction! I was especially impressed by Elizabeth Bear story and thought all the others were, at the very least, Very Good.
When I saw the title of Elizabeth Bear's "Shoggoth's in Bloom", I expected something humorous. I got a very serious, very moving story about a world in which H.P. Lovecraft's shoggoths (and other parts of his mythology) are real. Paul Harding is what is called in the setting of November, 1938, a "colored professor" who is up in Maine researching shoggoths, when they are in their "blooming" time and motionless. He is hoping for some breakthrough that will give him tenure. He is also concerned about the growing clouds of war in Europe. What he discovers changes his perspective in a very surprising way. I won't spoil it but I was so impressed that this story will be on my short list for the Hugos next year.
The rest of the novelettes in the issue all are well worth reading. Brian Stableford's "Following the Pharmers" takes place in a near future of climate change and renegade farmers. Daniel Anderson grows certain plants, in secret, that can be made into psychotropic drugs. He acquires a neighbor who is experimenting in a very radical way. She wants to change the results of natural selection. Stableford crafts a very interesting story here about the hazards of too much experimentation. In the introduction to Tom Purdom's "Sepoy Fidelities", we are told that this is set in a world that Purdom had written about back in 1992. I haven't read that but Purdom seamlessly tells us what we need to know. Our planet has been taken over by a race of benevolent aliens called the Tucfra and they use their technology to benefit Earth and control its people. They employ humans as "sepoys" (like the British did with the natives in India) and enhance them by putting their minds into perfect bodies. The story told, makes for an exciting adventure of heroism and love. The last novelette is from Carol Emshwiller, one of the best in the business. "Master of the Road to Nowhere" features a group of people, in a matriarchal society that exist on the fringes of a society like ours. This is also a communal society and individual love between two people is banned. What happens when two of their members fall in love?
The issue also has four very good short stories. Cat Rambo's "Kallakak's Cousins" is set on a human-run space station inhabited by a number of alien races. Kallakak is one of the Ballabel race who runs a little store. He is threatened with eviction from two of the Jellidoo race who claim prior ownership of the location. Then all of his departed wife's troublesome cousins show up and move in. How will he make out? I liked the end of this one. Steven Utley's "The World Within the World" is set in a "jump station" from which people are transported to other worlds. Some of the people working there wonder why the machine they use beeps for no apparent reason. Is the place haunted? In "This Is How It Feels" by Ian Creasey, a man who has been ticketed many times for speeding is punished by being implanted with the memories of a little girl killed by a speeding driver. How can he cope with this? Last of all, we get "Spiders" by Sue Burke in which a man takes his precocious son on a nature walk on an alien world.
This was a great issue. I recommend it highly.