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Jim Baen's Universe – Vol. 2 Number 6 –April 2008
Edited by Eric Flint
Review by Sam Tomaino
Baen  ISBN/ITEM#: 1932-0930
Date: 24 April 2008

Links: Magazine Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The April 2008 issue of the online magazine Jim Baen's Universe is here with stories by Mike Resnick, Jack McDevitt, Jody Lynn Nye, Tobias Buckell, Sarah Hoyt, Lou Antonelli and others, along with the usual articles and a classic by Jack Williamson.

I know when I start reading Jim Baen's Universe that I'll get nothing but entertaining stories and the April 2008 issue is no exception. All the stories got a Very Good from me.

The Science Fiction section begins with "Manumission" by Tobias S. Buckell. Pepper has had all but one of his memories taken away and is sent by a huge corporation to retrieve one of its runaway employees. But this job proves more difficult than anticipated and Pepper must find a way to deal with it all. In "Virtually, A Cat" by Jody Lynn Nye, Ardway is the designer of a deep-space ship who ships out on the maiden voyage, but he can't take his cats. He misses them so terribly, he drives the rest of the crew nuts. One of them comes up with a great substitute.

"Indomitable" by Jack McDevitt is a bittersweet tale set in the future when much of the galaxy has been explored. Harry and his father take a tour of a space museum. Harry is especially taken by an old survey ship, the Indomitable, being reconstructed. Harry's father says that they have explored enough, even though they found no other intelligent life. Harry is not so sure of that.

The Science Fiction section concludes with "Honorable Enemies: A Jake Masters Mystery" by Mike Resnick. Jake is a private detective in the city of Homer on the planet Odysseus. His partner (a member of the Broskog race, who look like beach balls) is killed tailing someone. Jake wants to find the murderer. His quest takes him all around the planet and into the criminal underworld. This is a delightful detective tale with aliens! What more could you ask for?

The first of the Fantasy Section is "Scraps of Fog" by Sarah A. Hoyt. Sandra is getting ready to leave her home in Aguas Santas, Portugal, when she marries Miguel who she does not really love. But then a young man claiming to be a long dead king shows up and inspires her to fulfill her heritage. This was a beautifully written little story.

Next comes "The Witch of Waxahachie" by Lou Antonelli. Larry Anglen is a newspaper editor in Waxahachie, Texas, near the old super-collider. In this story, set in 1997, an experiment with the equipment sends Larry, two friends and a dog into an alternate universe where the laws of magic, not science, were codified. The Larry of this world is dead but they meet other people who correspond to people in their world. One of them, Penelope Pennoyer is a judge in their world and a sorceress in this one, where Waxahachie is part of the Republic of Texas with Buddy Holly as president. The story has some hilarious in-jokes, which I won't spoil, and is thoroughly enjoyable.

Margaret Ronald's "Knight of Coins" features Genevieve Scelan, a private eye good at finding magical objects. A man named Sforza hires her to find three tarot cards that have been hexed against him. Genevieve can sniff out missing objects and finds something she's not expecting.

The issue includes two stories by new authors. Lucy Bond premieres with a story entitled "Red Tape and Cold Iron, or A Proposal for the Reintroduction of the Faery Folk to the United Kingdom". A politician gets the idea to bring faeries back to Britain. Her idea of Faery is very naïve but the folklorist she hires knows what she's doing. She's going to set things to right and use the Faery Folk to do it. Ms. Bond has written a nice little satire here.

R.J. Ortega's "Extreme Reservations" is an amusing tale about Ken O'Malley and his wife, Cathy, who have inherited a riverboat restaurant from his uncle Seamus. Ken can't figure out how his uncle stayed in business, until the night when the Flying Dutchman shows up to party with a lot of other "immortals" also showing up. This one has a lot of clever little asides and cameo appearances and you should get a real kick out of it.

This issue of Jim Baen's Universe also has a great classic by Jack Williamson, the usual serials and some great articles.

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