Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Asimov's Science Fiction (August 2008)

I just finished reading the latest Asimov's (well, either I'm a time traveler or their web site is in need of update, because the latest issue on the site is June 2008... ;-) ). I can't really say I was overly impressed with the stories in this issue. They were mostly alright, but nothing stands out to me as has happened with other issues. Sadly, I found the non-fiction to be more interesting. Oh well, on to the reviews (keeping them short & sweet... also, I'm not reviewing ones I didn't read or the poetry):

Reflections: Some Thoughts on the Short Story (essay). Robert Silverberg. Silverberg discusses Edgar Allen Poe's advice that "a short story is a piece of prose fiction in which just one significant thing happens" and H.G. Wells' addendum: "a science-fiction short story is a piece of prose fiction in which just one extraordinary thing happens". Interesting advice with examples and exceptions. Worth the read.

Thought Experiments: The Great Awakening (essay). Rudy Rucker. Rucker lays out possibilities on the future of computing and humanity post-singularity. Some interesting ideas and worthwhile hooks for fiction, though gets a little far-fetched towards the end.

Lagos (short story). Matthew Johnson. Safrat, a poor Nigerian working as a remote intelligence for first-world machinery, discovers that she and those she works with are being used to... Well, you'll have to read it. Interesting ideas, but not terribly compelling for me.

Old Man Waiting (short story). Robert Reed. A trust-funder (or someone with an unending supply of cash, anyway) stalks an old man with Alzheimer's for his amusement. I didn't really care for this story; nothing much happens, the characters aren't interesting or compelling, and I agree with the protagonist's friends: leave the old man alone!

Lucy (short story). J. Chris Rock. The tale of a probe and those who love her. No, wait, that's WALL*E. Elgin and Brad, two scientists, have subcontracted with NASA to send a probe to Titan. Meanwhile, they ponder their lives, their neighbors and their future. Again, not a terribly compelling story, though I do feel for the probe in the end.

Divining Light (novelette). Ted Kosmatka. A suicidal physicist explores the nature of reality and humanity. I like the subject matter and the story was ok, but I think Kosmatka doesn't really understand the double-slit experiment and its results.

What You Are About To See (short story). Jack Skillingstead. An NSA (sorta) spook takes on an alien that can choose its reality - with his help. Nothing to say. Wasn't particularly impressed, wasn't terribly disappointed.

Wilmer or Wesley (short story). Carol Emshwiller. A creature of nearly-human intelligence longs for freedom (more eloquently than most humans could). I liked this story, empathized with Wilmer or Wesley and was saddened at the injustice of his captivity.

Radio Station St. Jack (novelette). Neal Barrett, Jr.. A local DJ/Priest defends his post-war town from marauders (in dresses). I'm a fan of post-apocalypse fiction, and this is close enough to fit the bill for me.

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