Jim Baen's Universe Volume 2 Number 5, February 2008
by Eric Flint (Editor)
Edited by Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Jonathan Rollins
Review by Sam Tomaino
Date: 23 February 2008
Links: Magazine Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
David Brin's "The Smartest Mob" takes place in the future after a nuclear disaster in Washington. The city and its environs have recovered somewhat, and Tor Pleiades, an investigative reporter for MediaCorp, is traveling by zeppelin to Washington when she hears of an alert delaying the arrival. Through an implant called TruVu she is able to assemble a "smart mob" who can give her information. Through all this and her own investigations, she discovers a sabotage plot against the zeppelin. Can she avert disaster in time? This is an exciting and imaginative story.
"Premature Emergence" by Eric James Stone is the story of Jonah Auberg, a pilot in a hyperspace ship that suddenly emerges from hyperspace light years away from home. He might be able to wait for rescue but the nearby star is about to go nova. Unbeknownst to him there is something intelligent nearby that needs some help of its own. Can they somehow work together? E. Catherine Tobler's "Waking Ophelia" is the story of Ophelia Solomon, who spends most of her time in stasis sleep, transporting goods on her ship Luna. But on this trip, she finds her self awakened and her ship hijacked. The hijacker is a man named Daniel Larkin who want to transport some books to his grandmother, his father's last request. Ophelia finds that there is value to spending time awake. The last of the science fiction stories is "Spiderweb" by David Gerrold. The pilot of The Baked Bean, traveling through the Oort Cloud, discovers the ship is 26.4 kilometers short of where it should be. That's insignificant but the pilot wants to find why. Is the ship being slowed down by some kind of cosmic spiderweb? Can he gather some of this and return to Earth?
The Fantasy section begins with John Lambshead's "The Temple of Thorns". Prince Perseus must escape from the ship carrying him when he is discovered cheating at dice. He winds up on a strange shore and meets up with a princess of the Maryannu people. She had been on a quest but her retinue had all been killed. Perseus helps her but she has powers of her own. People who know even a little of Greek myth will know who the princess is. Lambshead brings these characters from Greek myth alive. In Alma Alexander's "Hourglass", Aris is a gleeman (a minstrel) who boasted that he could get rich in a land called Ghulkit. At first all he finds is snow, but then he is given shelter by a man named Bek. There are secrets in this place and his adventures begin.
Finally in the Fantasy section is "Sluggo" by Mike Resnick. In a Chicago hospital in 1931, a hideous slug-like boy is born. The nurses scream at the sight of him. For a while, he is put into an institution, until that closes. He is in his 20s now and reasonably intelligent. He winds up working to scare people in a fun house. There he meets a little girl named Nancy who is not repulsed by him. Resnick, once again, gives us a beautiful tale.
The new short fiction in this issue is completed by a novella from a new writer, Holly Messinger. Her story is called "End of the Line". This is an exciting story about Jacob Tracy and his friend John Bosley who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War, Bosley in the Negro Corps. "Trace" has visions and had, at one time, studied for the priesthood. They are sent by a mysterious lady named Miss Fairweather to find out about attacks on workers building the Union Pacific's Short Line to Oregon in the northern Rockies. What follows is a good vampire-fighting story. I hope to see more of these stories from Ms. Messinger.
This issue also has a classic from Rudyard Kipling, three serialized stories and a number of articles and columns. You should check them out at www.baens-universe.com.