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Asimov's Science Fiction – September 2008 – Vol. 32 No. 9 – (Whole Number 392)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: John Picacio for
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 25 July 2008

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

The September 2008 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is here with stories by William Barton, Will McIntosh, Stephen Baxter, Robert R. Chase, Mary Rosenblum, Ian Creasey, Stephen Utley and Derek Zumsteg.

Asimov's Science Fiction 's September 2008 issue is another good one. All the stories got a Very Good (at least) from me and one was Execeptional.

The issue begins with "In the Age of the Quiet Sun" by William Barton. Our cast of characters include a genetically-altered man, just called Mr. Zed, another genetically-altered human named Jenny Murphy and Ylva a "organic AI system" (actually with a real human personality. The three are exploring an asteroid while in the pay of a company stolen from Mr. Zed, years ago. All have interesting back stories and all this affects what they do when they discover the body of a long-dead alien on the asteroid. Even better, there's also a ship! How they manage to benefit from all this makes for a nicely told tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.

"Soldier of the Singularity" by Robert R. Chase begins in the office of a man named Young. He is suddenly interrupted by a robotic being calling itself 5Csigma.11059. Young is a therapist and the being, a captured and disarmed soldier in the army of the Singularity wants help, even though it says mankind is obsolete. Young refuses but the story takes a surprising turn that you won't expect. This was a very clever piece of writing.

Mary Rosenblum's "Horse Racing" takes place in a near-future establishment with a very interesting Futures market, one for human beings. Our narrator takes a visitor on a tour and shows him some surprising things. This is one of those unnerving stories that will leave you unsettled. Ian Creasey always contributes something unique and "Cut Loose the Bonds of Flesh and Bone" is certainly that. Susanna's nagging mother is on her deathbed. She has arranged for her personality to be uploaded so that she can continue to be with Susanna and her family. Creasey has written a serious piece that makes us think about a possible future and what we will do with it.

In "Slug Hell", Steven Utley's narrartor, a scientist named Silver is part of a team that's gone back in time, studying in the Paleozoic era. This is a nice mood piece, with Silver having thoughts about the human condition when there are few humans around.

Will McIntosh's "Midnight Blue" is a novelette set in an alternate 1970s in which, many years before, colored spheres had suddenly appeared. When combined with a staff and another sphere, they would be absorbed by their bearer and give him or her some kind of power or quality. It could be the ability to fly or pay music, invulnerability, good looks, etc. By now many of these had been used up and only the rich could afford them. Jeff and his mother live simply and, while she had absorbed some in her youth, she cannot afford any for Jeff. Then, one day, Jeff finds a sphere with an unusual color, Midnight Blue. No one had found one of these before. What Jeff decides to do with it makes for a great little story and one to add to my Hugo Short List for next year.

In the introduction, we are told that "Usurpers" is Derek Zumsteg's first pro-fiction sale. Previously, he has written much on baseball. This story is about competitive foot racing. King is a young man who must do all he can to defeat those that have been enhanced to win. The end might be a bit predictable but Zumsteg manages to insert much drama in a satisfying ending.

The issue concludes with "The Ice War" by Stephen Baxter. This begins on March 5, 1720 when an alien ship lands on a farm in Jedburgh, a border town between England and Scotland. A roguish teacher named Jack Hobbes is being chased by an angry father when he almost gets hit by what he thinks is the tail of a comet. Aliens come out of the ground and Jack flees with the rest of the populace, making his way towards Edinburgh. On the way he meets refugees from London: Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift and Isaac Newton. Baxter contributes a rousing tale of heroism and cowardice that I will not forget soon.

All in all, this is a very good issue and Sheila Williams is doing a fine job. Subscribe today,

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