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Asimov's Science Fiction – January 2009 – Vol. 33 No. 1 – (Whole Number 396)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Michael Whelan
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 21 November 2008 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The January 2009 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Mary Rosenblum, Larry Niven, Will McIntosh. Robert R. Chase, E. Salih, Nancy Kress and Damien Broderick and has a cover by Michael Whelan.

Asimov's Science Fiction 's January 2009 issue is another fine one with Very Good stories by Mary Rosenblum, Larry Niven, Will McIntosh. Robert R. Chase, E. Salih, Nancy Kress and Damien Broderick.

The fiction gets off to a good start with "Lion Walk" by Mary Rosenblum. Set in a future of climate change, the lead character is Tahira Ghani, a woman of Lesothan descent who is the warden of a Pleistocene preserve in the United States. She finds the remains of a young woman who somehow got on the preserve only to be killed by lions. Tahira wants justice for the woman and the lion she must euthanize and goes about it in this fascinating story of courage and integrity.

Larry Niven gives us a wonderful little two-pager in "Passing Perry Crater Base, Time Uncertain", An alien spaceship flies by Earth and evaluates us according to what we deserve. More I will not say. A nice piece of Turkish Delight from an old master!

The "Bridesicle" in Will McIntosh's story is a woman named Mira who has been cryogenically frozen after "dying" in an auto accident. She is revived for a "date" by men who are considering spending a lot of money to repair and revive her so that they could marry her. This isn't an easy set-up for Mira and she must find a way not to be "killed" again when she doesn't satisfy a prospective husband. This was a very touching story and well-worth reading.

Robert R. Chase tells us that "Five Thousand Light Years from Birdland" has the spirit of Poul Anderson hovering over it and I agree with him. It seemed much like an Anderson story and that is high praise. A man from Earth is accompanying a birdlike alien called Screet back to his home. The alien had been thrown off-course and needed help getting back. He has chosen a man named Gonzales to go home with him. Gonzales is the kind of smart human we used to get in science fiction all the time. Will that be enough for him to succeed? A clever little story, indeed!

According to the introduction, "Messiah Excelsa" is the first story of a man who is a "youngish Londoner working in finance" whose name we know only as E. Salih. Salih has written a beautiful time-travel story about a man named Carl Cozinski, Jr who travels back to Lombardia, Italy, arriving on May 3rd, 1734. There, impersonating a count he meets the great Antonio Stradivari and manages to figure out a way to acquire his masterpiece violin, called the Messiah and made of Excelsa wood. Salih writes this delightful piece in an ornate style, suitable to the time period and I will be looking forward to more stories from him.

"Unintended Behavior" by Nancy Kress features Annie, who is tired of living with her abusive and cheating husband, Don. At first, she considers leaving him but then, just wants to kick him out of their apartment. The problem is all the technological marvels he has installed make that difficult. The story builds and builds until a great ending.

Jim Stokes' "Uncle Bones" in the story of the same name by Damien Broderick is a war veteran brought back from the dead by nano-technology. There are drawbacks, one of which is that they stink pretty badly. Called "Stinkies", they are shunned and abused by people in the worst way. Things only get worse for Jim after a disastrous encounter with some criminals trying to exploit those like his Uncle Bones. Broderick weaves a good tale here of teenage angst taken to the worst level, although the end is a little too pat..

All in all, a perfect issue and you should be subscribing.

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