Jim Baen's Universe August 2009
Edited by Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Carrett W. Vance
Review by Sam Tomaino
Baen ISBN/ITEM#: 1932-0930
Date: 28 September 2009
Links: Jim Baen's Universe / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The August 2009 issue of Jim Baen's Universe is another good one and all the stories are well worth reading..
The Science Fiction section leads off with "Mouse Suits" by Stephen Eley. In the future, all Earth has to sell aliens is our culture. Earth Parks recreate places like twentieth-century New York and Tom is wearing the "mouse suit" of Melvin Seebanks, a corporate executive. He's supposed to keep visiting aliens (wearing human bodies) happy and keep up the pretense that all is normal. This is, of course, not easy. Eley gives us an amusing satire that is an enjoyable read.
"No GUTS, No Glory" by Edward M. Lerner is an amusing little short-short that starts when an accountant acquires a client who makes a mess of his finances but is a genius at physics. It's cleverly done and will make you smile.
In "Ganny Knits a Spaceship" by David Gerrold, teenage girl Starling's grandfather and grandmother are very successful entrepreneurs. They made their money with whirlygigs, described as "a beanstalk (space elevator) without a planet attached", which catch and sling cargo pods from the planets. They are distrustful of dirtsiders (people who live on planets), but Starling has a Earth cyber-boyfriend named James Sawyer. She has to be careful what she writes to him as they don't know if he's honest. Things get dicey when Gampy and Ganny decide to build a spaceship. This was a fun story, all told from the point of view of Starling.
The Fantasy section has two stories. The first is "The Blitz Experience" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I always find that reading a story by Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a tremendously pleasant experience. Her use of language is not showy but it effortlessly pulls you in. Here we are introduced to Tenesha McGuire, a young American woman, visiting her great-grandmother in London. It's been a long time since she's visited and she has used her job of leading a group of students on a tour as an opportunity to see Grand. Grand gives her a special gift, a cross that's warm to the touch. This sets up a nice little story having to do with the London Blitz and magic. This one was another treat from one of the best writers that the field has.
Quartz Marie, a female dwarf, tells us "Why I Live in the Silver Mine" in the story by Marissa Lingen. Quartz Marie is proud of her dwarfishness and will have nothing to do with the magic fiddle that her sister, Tourmaline, has brought down from the Tall Folk on the surface. The rest of her family disagrees. All in all, this was a nice little fantasy.
This issue has just one story in its Introducing section "Dream For Sale - Two Bits" by Thomas Alan Mays. Doctor Stuart Tacumseh Langley is a university professor who offers rural people a device that can change their lives to a "better" version of themselves in the multiverse. A lot of people go for that notion. That night, he's getting ready to leave town but an encounter with a waitress who is more than what she seems gives him a new perspective on what he is doing. Mays has some talent and can put together a good story. I hope we hear more from him in the future.
There is also an NSF Award winning story, "Cathedral" by Mike Barretta. Jerry Beaden is an astronaut chosen for a special mission. He is supposed to fly by Mars but that's a ruse. A fake emergency will force him to land on Mars and that will force a rescue that would revive the space program. The story is told well and there are no surprises but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
All this is rounded out by a Classic Reprint, "The Ordeal of Doctor Trifalgus" by Jules Verne (translated by William T. Bradley). In the little town of Luktrop, a greedy physician, named Doctor Trifalgus, finally agrees to attend to a man who is ill, after the man's family offers him sufficient money. What does he find in the man's house? Read this little gem and find out!
Unfortunately, this issue also bears the news that Jim Baen's Universe will be closing after the April 2010 issue. I am sorry to see that happen. JBU was a consistent source of quality stories and the short fiction market is now smaller. Even still, they still have some good subscription deals which include back issues. They can still use your support. So, go to their web-site at www.baens-universe.com and look those deals over!