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Asimov's Science Fiction- April/May 2008 – Vol. 32 No. 4 & 5 (Whole Number 387 & 388) by Sheila Williams (Editor)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Donato Giancola
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 10652698
Date: 23 February 2008 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The April/May 2008 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is a double issue with stories by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kathleen Ann Goonan, S.P. Somtow, Kate Wilhelm, Neal Barrett Jr., Robert Reed, Merrie Haskell, Nick Wolven, Catherine Wells, Matthew Johnson and Barry Longyear.

When I saw the table of contents for the April/May 2008 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction, I was reminded of the year 1979 when I first read what was then Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, or simply IASFM. Stories by Longyear and Somtow? Cool! I liked this issue a lot. One story got an Excellent and the rest all got a Very Good.

"Memory Dog" by Kathleen Goonan is in some near future in which memories can be enhanced by pills and thoughts transmitted through the Internet. Mike is a man who feels responsible for the death of his daughter. He has his memories transferred into that of a dog and becomes close to his former wife. As things become more violent in his world, he finds a way to set things straight. In Neal Barrett Jr.'s "Slidin'" a family makes its way through Texas 283 years after a nuclear disaster. They are all but one deformed in some way, as are the rest of the people they encounter. The exception is our narrator, Laureen. What will become of her?

Robert Reed contributes another little gem with "The House Left Empty". Sometime in a not-to-distant future, the United State has broken down into small "SGs" (self-governing communities). EMP bombs wiped out much of what was working in New York and Washington, including the Internet, but roof tiles that can store solar energy and nano-machines that can produce just about anything have made it possible for people to live quite comfortably in small enclaves. Two men come into possession of something from a more hopeful age. What have they lost? This is a beautiful, bittersweet story that will be on my Hugo short list for next year.

When I saw the title "An Almanac for the Alien Invaders", I thought it would be a humorous tale, but Merrie Haskell gives us something different. The story is told, with references to eclipses, solstices, full moons, etc., from the viewpoint of Elizabeth Naidu, a college professor whose terrestrial life starts to sour. She becomes a collaborator with invading aliens and wonders if she made the right choice. Nick Wolven's first publication, "An Art, Like Everything Else", is the story of Tim who, it looks like, is being haunted by his lover Dominic. But Tim lives in what appears to be a simulated world in which you can change things on a whim. Why does he see his lover who has passed on and how can he resolve things? Wolven shows some talent in this poignant tale.

S.P. Somtow, the writer formerly known as Somtow Sucharitkul, returns to the pages of Asimov's after a long absence. It is 1440 and an inquisitor named Father Lenclud must return to the city of Tiffauges, 12 years after he was there before, involved with the trial and burning of the infamous Gilles de Rais. Here he finds two things, a son and an alien who the son found in the woods. He thinks the alien is a demon and must have him tortured. What happens deeply affects the priest and his son.

In "Ghost Town", Katherine Wells tells us of Kaye Halstead who has returned from a 14-year trip in space that was only supposed to be two years and feels like that's all it's been. She has a hard time adjusting to her home town being deserted and her kid sister now older than her. What can she do to feel at home again?

Kate Wilhelm is one of my favorite writers and her "Strangers When We Meet" does not disappoint. Rebecca Hardesty has been in an accident that killed her mother and brother. But she does not remember more than a day at a time. It would be cruel to tell her every day what has happened, so the people caring for her do not. Her condition makes her a perfect candidate for Dr. Edith Dreisser's mapping of the human brain. She comes to care for Rebecca and hopes to find a way to cure her. Enter a young man named Keith Adams who has met and fallen in love with her. Wilhelm gives us a beautiful story here.

"Another Country" by Matthew Johnson is about a different kind of refugee problem, one through time. "Prefugees" from more than 1000 years ago are coming through time fissures and it's Geoffrey's job to help them get acclimated. But this is not an easy thing and Geoffrey must do something more. One of the first writers that I was impressed by back in those 1979 IASFMs was Barry B. Longyear. He is in this issue with "The Advocate". Larry is a writer suffering from a disease that is robbing his mind. He wants to devote the rest of his time to writing so he creates an "imprint bio", a kind of clone with his personality imprinted on it to see to his medical needs. He calls him Craig and turns him loose. Craig does what he can in this sad story.

The issue concludes with the novella, "The Room of Lost Souls" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Our narrator is a woman who used to "wreck dive" in abandoned space ships until two of her crew died while diving something called a "Dignity Vessel". Now she just takes tourists on safe dives of old wrecks. She is approached by a woman named Riya Trekov who wants to hire our narrator to find her father, a man who disappeared aboard a space station called The Room of Lost Souls. People have entered the central part of that station and never came out. One of them was the narrator's mother. One person who did come out was the narrator, when she was a little girl. All that sets up an exciting story of the quest for the truth.

Yes, this was an excellent issue. I recommend it highly.

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