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Asimov's Science Fiction - August 2009 - Vol. 33 Nos.8 - (Whole Numbers 403 )
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: John Jude Palencar
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 24 June 2009 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The August 2009 issue of Asimovís Science Fiction has stories by Damien Broderick, Michael Blumlein, Robert Reed, Derek Zumsteg, Mary Robinette Kowal, Stephen Popkes, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, along with the usual columns!

Asimovís Science FictionĎs August 2009 issue is another very good one, and I liked all the stories, but one and one story was Hugo-worthy .

The issue begins with "The Qualia Engine" by Damien Broderick. Science fiction has written stories about the first generation of super smart children. What about the next generation, the "grandchildren of the atom?" Saul Collins and his friends are that generation and want to explore the Hard Problem of the reason for consciousness. That kind of research has a price in this very original story.

I always know a Robert Reed story will be something different, Well, "Creatures of Well-Defined Habits" certainly was. Hogan is a very old and rich man, and our narrator admires him. An event happens that sets our narrator on a quixotic quest as only Reed can tell it. He shows us once more that he is one of the finest masters of the short story.

"Blue" by Derek Zumsteg features Sigurd and Rivka stationed out near a black hole that looks blue. The story consists of a lot of hard science jargon, alternating with a discussion of their meal choices. I found this one distinctly uninteresting. /p>

I had read Mary Robinette Kowal's fiction in the small press and liked the work she did guest-editing Shimmer a while back. I was glad to see her win the John Campbell Award for Best New Writer. So when I saw her name next to "The Consciousness Problem", my expectations were high. I was not disappointed. Elise is a woman who has suffered a head trauma in a traffic accident. As a result, she can, at best, work as a housewife until she recovers. She and her husband, Myung, had been working on cloning and consciousness transfer. Myung has continued the work and had success in cloning himself. Kowal crafts a brilliant story here, one that will make my Hugo Short List, next year. /p>

In "Two Boys", Stephen Popkes shows us a world in which Neanderthals were recreated from frozen genetic material. Popkes gives us two stories, one about the first Neanderthal and another set years later. In a very concise way, he illuminates the effect they might have and how they live, making for a well-told story.

"Turbulence" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a brief, but effective three-pager about a frequent flier that winds up with the wrong woman sitting next to him on a plane. A nice little tale but not one you want to be thinking about the next time you fly.

The issue concludes with "California Burning" by Michael Blumlein. A man takes his fatherís body to a crematorium but the body will not burn completely. Everything burns but the bones. The man takes a box with the bones home and is visited by two men who say they are members of a club that his father belonged to, "Friends of our Deceased". Meanwhile, wildfires rage all over the state. Blumlein tells a compelling story of loss and recovery.

All in all, Asimovís gives us a great 403st issue. Subscribe!

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