Saturday, October 29, 2011

Magazine Review #3 - Asimov's, August 2008


August 2008

I've got to say that all in all this issue really did not deliver on the promise of Science Fiction.  The cover art is not tied to any of the stories within. 

I'm getting the feeling that Asimov's might not be the magazine for me since I like my Science Fiction with space ships.  I don't have to be in space but I like knowing that the ability to get out there is possible.  Only one of these stories satisfied that need but only in a very limited way.


Lagos by Matthew Johnson: This was an interesting story.  I liked it.  It took the whole third world call-center industry to a whole new level.  Plus there is the recurring theme of the man-machine interface that has been cropping up a lot in SF lately.  It was a satisfying read.  I really felt the desperation of the main characters.

Old Man Waiting by Robert Reed:   I'm confused.

I cannot figure out why this story is considered Science Fiction.The story goes like this: some dude spots an old man sitting on a park bench, he decides the old guy looks queer and DECIDES he's an alien.

And SPOILER ALERT - he's exactly what he seems to be - an old man with Alzheimer's. How does this qualify for publication in this magazine?

Pass on this one.

Lucy by J Chris Rock:

Set in the near future, two engineers, working from their Hell's Kitchen apartment, on a robotic probe on Titan find that neighbourhood has an influence on their mission.

Not a bad story but it's set so near in the future that there is very little sense of wonder in the story. The descriptions of the Titan environment were satisfying but I couldn't help thinking that this particular mission is only a matter of time and forgone.

I'd call it a piece of literary fiction with a splash of science thrown in before I'd call it SF.

Divining Light by Ted Kosmatka:This story started in a deep, dark noir aesthetic. But soon it turned into an egghead quantum physics story that completely lost me in the end. By the time the story ended I was completely baffled.

Perhaps that was the intention, after all, a couple of the supporting characters were as confused as I was.

It's a lot like the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment.

Yea, this one sailed completely over my head.

Wat You Are About to See by Jack Skillingstead:  This was a strange little story: part Area 51, part Guantanamo Bay and part Twilight Zone. It deals with an alien interrogation and the nature of choices and possibilities.

The story was very "televisual" which I could see if it was being filmed but in the case of the written word I'm not sure the visual of a 7-11 in the desert was necessary. It was still a moving tale which made me hope the best decision would be made.

Wilmer or Wesley by Carol Emshwiller:  Another head-scratch.  Think - monkey escapes from the zoo.  The story is from the point of view of the monkey.  Fair enough but the monkey is not a monkey; he seems to be human.  Okay.  Why is he in a zoo?  Don't know.  What is so different about him?  Never told.  Why is it the citizens don't recognize him as anything else but human?  Still not let in on that detail.

The main character does not know why he's in captivity and the author has deemed it unnecessary to explain it to the reader.  Fair enough if you are trying to convey what it must feel like to be a zoo animal.  But once again I really don't feel like I've been told an SF story.

Radio Station St. Jack by Neal Barrett, Jr.:  What a great title.  This was another disappointment for me.  Not because it was poorly written but mostly because it was not what I expected.  I think I can be forgiven for thinking that it would have something to do with the cover art but really it was a western.  Okay, sure it was set in a post-apocalypse world so it's closer to a Mad Max setting but it just read like a western with all the stilted dialog that comes with it.

Was it good?  Well, it was okay.  The end gave it some gravity for me; it was more about how a small town survives in a world without law and order.  We are shown that we are only one war away from the Wild West.

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