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Asimov's Science Fiction - October/November 2009 - Vol. 33 Nos. 10 & 11 - (Whole Numbers 405 & 406)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Dominic Harman
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 25 September 2009 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The October/November 2009 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by William Barton, Ted Kosmatka & Michael Poore, R. Garcia y Robertson, Damien Broderick, Elissa Malcohn, Christopher Barzak, Heather Lindsley, Ian Creasey, Robert Reed, and Nancy Kress, along with the usual columns!

Asimov's Science Fiction's October/November 2009 issue is has a bunch of very good stories and one exceptional one!

The issue begins with "Blood Dauber" by Ted Kosmatka & Michael Poore. Bell works in a zoo but doesn't make enough money. He has arguments over it with his wife, Lin. One day, a strange bug is discovered on the zoo grounds. Bell knows something of entomology but can't identify it, reasoning that it might have come in with some fruit. He puts it in a terrarium and cares for it. It spins a cocoon and emerges as a winged wasp-like insect. It then lays eggs. Bell discovers some strange things as subsequent generations evolve before his very eyes. The story develops with several subplots and is quite compelling. All in all, a good read.

In "Wife-Stealing Time", R. Garcia y Robertson gives us a great adventure story, like something out of Edgar Rice Burroughs. ERB is paid tribute throughout the story, with the planet it's set on being called Barsoom. The planet seems to have been settled by Native Americans and the lead character, SinBad, is of the Huron tribe. Transporting off-world nanoelectronics via a sand-sail craft, he is becalmed near a Crow village during what is called wife-stealing time, when unfaithful wives can be taken from their husbands. SinBad comes across such a woman named Pretty Bottom. This all sets up a story involving savage beasts called ba'aths, slavers, rich hunters from off-world and more. Robertson packs a lot into just 17 stories and this was great fun to read.

Damien Broderick's "Flowers of Asphodel" is a lush, flowery piece that begins with a man named Isaac Hersch, who is awakened from a rejuvenation process because those in charge want him to talk his wife Europa out of remaking the universe. As he journeys to find her, we are told a wild tale about how the two of them have already changed things considerably. This was a tale richly told.

Ian Creasey's "Erosion" is told from the point of view of Winston, a man who has been augmented so he could be a colonist on another planet. He goes for one last extended walk and discovers much about himself. This was a nice little gem from Mr. Creasey.

"Flotsam" by Elissa Malcohn begins in 1973, when a young girl named Mercedes Rios finds what looks like a "sea baby" amidst a mass of fish killed by pollution. She tries to care for it but it disappears after she leaves it alone. Years later, the adult Mercedes is obsessed with saving creatures of the sea that have been confused with mermaids. Malcohn has given us a beautiful story.

Robert Reed is one of my favorite writers and "Before My Last Breath" is another one of his fine efforts. The story shifts from one viewpoint to the other of people affected by the discovery of the graves of some one hundred thousand giant aliens in a coal seam in Wyoming. After showing us a number of viewpoints, Reed gives us a final one that finishes the story nicely.

"The Ghost-Hunter's Beautiful Daughter" in the story by Christopher Barzak is Sylvie, a fourteen-year old girl who can see ghosts when she's looking at them. When she sees them, her ghost-hunter father can see them, too. He snaps their picture with an old Polaroid camera. The ghosts disappear and her father thinks they're gone. But they are not, they are now in the photograph and Sophie can talk with them. This all started when her mother died. Her father saw her ghost and snapped the picture, so Sophie talks with her mother all the time. Sophie is uncomfortable with what her father is doing. How she deals with it makes for a great novelette and one that will make my Hugo short list.

"Deadly Sins" by Nancy Kress begins after Renata has killed the scientist she worked for. Why did she do it? What did she get out of it? What was the scientist working on? Kress reveals all, in this elegantly done little story.

In "Where the Time Goes" by Heather Lindsley, Chambers and Martin are in the salvage business. That would be wasted time salvage. They can travel in time and capture the hours people waste, selling it back to them in later life (like they do for Leo Tolstoy) or sell it to others. On one trip, things go wrong and they must consult Godfather Paradox. This was a fun story and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The novella in this issue is "The Sea of Dreams" by William Barton and it's quite a story. It features a man from our time who has lived well past 100 and owns a lucrative company he calls Eighth Ray Scientific-Industrial Enterprise. Our hero, now going by the name of Mr. Zed had found an inertia-less drive on an abandoned alien space ship thirty-five years prior to our story and has parlayed that into a fortune. His companion is a clone of an actress named Ylva, who was implanted with her personality. She is called the Body Double at the start of the story and gets her own name as things progress. Our intrepid pair find another alien craft near Uranus and eventually find themselves transported to another universe. That's the set-up for an exciting story that reminds one of space operas of the past. It goes much further than that and makes for one great read.

Sheila Williams has put together a really nice double issue. You should subscribe, but if you don't, at least pick this one up wherever you can!

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