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Asimov's Science Fiction – December 2008 – Vol. 32 No. 10 & 11 – (Whole Number 395)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: J.K. Potter
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 26 October 2008

Links: Asimov's Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The December 2008 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is a great one with stories by David Ira Cleary, Tin Sullivan, Kathryn Lance and Jack McDevitt, Stephen Utley, Geoffrey Landis, and an exceptional novelette from Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem.

Asimov's Science Fiction December 2008 issue is a great one. I liked one story enough to put it on my Hugo short list for next year and all the rest got a Very Good from me.

Tim Sullivan starts out the issue with "Way Down East". Donny and Laurent are two aging lobstermen in Maine who have just invested in a nice new boat. It turns out an alien visitor they call "The Gleezer" is visiting the town and would like to take a trip out on the bay. They manage to get the job and leave with the alien and three Secret Service agents. Sullivan does a nice job in fleshing out his characters in this poignant tale.

In the introduction to "Welcome to Valhalla" by Kathryn Lance and Jack McDevitt, we are told that Kathryn Lance is a Wagner fanatic and that sets the background for the story. The great composer Richard Wagner has just watched the last rehearsal for a grand performance of his Ring Cycle which will begin the next night. He finds himself in the company of a tall, beautiful woman who seems like she is not of this world. She shows him horrific visions of a future Germany and what his works will inspire. Should he abandon his work? Lance and McDevitt pose an interesting question in this brief, but effective story.

"Perfect Everything" by Stephen Utley begins in an idyllic way with a man named Maitland and his wife Kimma but soon we learn that Maitland is on a mission to look for aliens and what we saw was the product of something called a "dreamball". But soon his dreams are interrupted by news that his colony world has been attacked and that many are dead. What will he find when he returns? This was a very well-told tale.

For more than 20 years, I've been reading the stories of Melaine Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem, both individually and "In Concert" as their story is titled. They both bring a wonderful sensitivity to their work and this one is one of their best. Inez is an old woman living alone who has been getting random thoughts from other people all her life. She suddenly worries that she has received a suicidal thought from her great-grandson, Daniel, and cannot get in touch with him. Then, she starts receiving message from a man she has read about in the newspapers. An astronaut named Casey whose ship has been lost in space. All these come together in a beautiful story and one that I will remember when nominating for the Hugos next year.

Geoffrey A. Landis's narrator needs to get to the second planet around Arcturus and hitches a ride with two guys named Neal and Jack in "Still on the Road". The story will mean more to you if you know who Neal and Jack are but the title should give you a clue. I won't tell. This one was an amusing little piece which seems to channel a generation long gone.

The novella and cover story for this issue is "The Flowers of Nicosia" by David Ira Cleary. Dennis leads a grunge band named Downtown Dharma and worships Kurt Cobain. He and Rick and Vlad are touring Europe until a place where they are to play gets bombed by terrorists. Dennis has a vision of bringing Rock to Islam and uniting East and West. They windup in Cyprus amid warnings about a deadly bio-terror disease called Amanita which causes colorful spoors to erupt on a victim's face and then lungs, causing death. He insists on playing a club in Turkish Nicosia and brings his message to the crowd. Cleary creates many interesting characters in this sad story which you won't soon forget.

All in all, especially with the story from Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem, this was an excellent issue!

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