Review: Asimov’s SF, V31 #9, September 2007

Asimov’s SF, V31 #9, September 2007

Overall I would call this an average issue of Asimov’s SF. There seemed to be more dark and heavy themed stories than usual. The cover arrived damaged again. The only interior art is presented with the poetry. I really think this is a shame because it gives the interior a sterile feeling.

Stories

  • (novelette) The Caldera of Good Fortune– Robert Reed
    Perhaps it is just because I have been thinking and examining the craft of writing, but I feel that this story starts too slow. I was paying attention and I laid the magazine down twice because the story did not capture my attention. I was more than halfway through the story before its pace quickened. I liked the rest of it very much. Perhaps if I was not one of those people that finish nearly every book or story they start I would not have gotten that far. I can’t recall everything I have read that was penned by Robert Reed, but I do know his is a name I look forward to seeing in the table of contents. This one disappointed me just a bit. {nt5}
  • (short story) My Heart as Dry as Dust– Kim Zimring
    I saw this one coming. Regardless I think it is a good story. The topic, and the implications of ignoring it, make a social statement. For me, everything works out as it should for the main character. If I take any message away from this that the author might be communicating is that we need to pay more attention to our fellow citizens of the world. But maybe it is just my own sentiments getting stirred up.{ss5}
  • (short story) How Music Begins– James Van Pelt
    At first I didn’t think I was going to like this story. For me it had a slow start, but I could see where anyone that had been in a school band (I was not) would perhaps not think that way. Again, I saw this one coming. Perhaps because I now expect a certain type of story in Asimov’s SF that the outcome of the plots are easy to guess. I did really enjoy the imagery and the description of the music. The two main characters, while stereotypical, were not caricatures. {ss5}
  • (novelette) The Prophet of Flores– Ted Kosmatka
    Finally a story with science in it. I found the alternate history world the story is based in to be one similar to ones that I have pondered. I can give away the setting without giving away the plot. What if “intelligent design” had been accepted and supported as true science worldwide? I found just enough of the rationalization to ring true to allow me to allow me to relax into the story and accept this world as possible. Especially the half-truth about Carbon-14 proving the world is 5800 years old. The science geek in me really liked that touch/”in joke” and I hope the author did it on purpose. The main character seems a lot like the science-type people I know. I would like to see other stories based in this world. {nt6}
  • (novelette) What Wolves Know– Kit Reed
    I guessed the ending of this one as well. It was an OK story and it did keep me wondering how we would get to the inevitable ending. The story is a little dark and perhaps my own mood is causing me to be harsher than I would normally be. I think the best part of the story is the unveiling of ‘what wolves know’ by the main character. {nt4}
  • (short story) Draw– Pati Nagle
    This is a nice character tale. The descriptions were detailed enough that I could imagine being with the main character. The emotions and actions all felt right. The editors got it right, using this tale to balance out the more serious and dark stories in the issue. {ss6}
  • (short story) By Fools Like Me– Nancy Kress
    A cautionary tale on multiple levels. Touches on global warming, child abuse, and fanaticism. I am a fan of post apocalyptic fiction and this world grabbed me and held my attention. The story makes me ponder which is stronger, my love of books or my love of trees. This is my favorite story of the issue. {ss7}
  • (novelette) The Good Ship Lollypop– R. Garcia y Robertson
    I have looked and can not find a reference to what or how the author refers to this universe he has created. I think of it as “The SuperCat universe, (praise unto Elvis).” I have enjoyed other tales in this universe and this one joins them. Rollicking action with danger, escape, danger and a satisfying ending. I am hoping that all of these tales are put into a collection someday because I fear that other stories in “The SuperCat universe, (praise unto Elvis),” have been in magazines I don’t read. {nt7}

The Arts: (disclaimer: I don’t “get” most art or poetry, but I know what I like)

  • (cover art) (?The Good Ship Lollypop?)- Dan O’Driscoll
    While I am happy that the editors include the cover artist’s name on the banner page, I would be even happier if they also included the name of the work of art. I know that some covers are not commissioned for a specific story each month, but I still would like to know the name of the art work I vote for during each years readers poll. I like this cover. I am sure it is not the fault of the artist, but the cover image is backwards. The cover story appears to be about the ship Lollypop, and being an attentive person, I looked for the name on the ship because indeed it did look something like a lollipop. Instead of that name, I discovered the reverse image of the name Athena. Perhaps the editor did it on purpose. I did hold the cover up to a mirror and I do like it just as much the right way around. {a4}
  • (poetry) Asteroid People– Bruce Boston
    The layout made this poem interesting to look at. I found that I didn’t particularly care for this poem. It just didn’t grab my interest. {p3}
  • (poetry) Cendrillon at Sunrise– Jo Walton
    I did like the imagery of this poem. However, I couldn’t get past my initial notion that a poem about a fairy tale character shouldn’t be in a science fiction magazine. Now maybe if “Cinderella” had seen robots and spaceships instead of unicorns and dragons… ahh, that’s the editor’s fault. It just doesn’t belong. To be fair it was a good poem. {p2}
  • (poetry) Reservations Suggested– G.O. Clark
    My criteria, “what if this was a story”, fits for this one. In a few stanzas the author caught my interest and had me chuckling. I know that one of the things I really like in poetry is humor. {p5}
  • (poetry) A Meeting of Minds– Karen L. Frank
    Hmm. Certainly has science words, but they are being used to mean something different. Creative. I just did not work for me. {p1}

Departments:

  • (editorial) 2007 Readers’ Awards by Sheila Williams
    These are the awards as voted by the readership of Asimov’s SF. I find the stories I remember liking are sometimes far down on the list of winners, or sometimes not even on the list. Of the five short stories winners, I only recall liking, “Nano comes to Clifford Falls” by Nancy Kress. is the fifth place winner. (Meta Review: The reason you see the little {ss6} type of notation at the end of each item I review is because I want to keep track of exactly were each story rated for me. Next year, I’ll have more than my memory to rely on.)
  • (column) Reflections: Saddam Wasn’t The Worst by Robert Silverberg
    Mr. Silverberg hits us over the head with a reflection of ancient Assyrian atrocities that makes the most recent leader of Iraq look like a puppy dog. I am not inspired to find out more about this topic. It was a good reminder nonetheless.
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4 Responses

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful look at my story. I appreciate your analysis of my story and the rest of the issue. I liked “The Good Ship Lollypop” too.

  2. Jim: I am glad you appreciated my analysis. I am fearful of being too heavy handed with my opinions while trying to walk that fine line between giving a potential reader good information and totally spoiling the story for them.
    I was wondering if you were a teacher, and now that I have visited your site, I know the answer. BTW, “The Ice-Cream Man” was one of my favorite stories in Asimov’s SF back in 2005.

  3. It was one of my favorites too. It’s a sequel to “The Last of the O-Forms” which was also an Asimov’s story and the title story to my second collection.

  4. Good to know. I was poking around the bibliography on your website and was considering picking up your first collection. I have not read any of your work that has appeared in Analog; or anywhere else besides Asimov’s for that matter. I’ll correct that as soon as discretionary funds allow.

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