Galaxy’s Edge #22, September/October 2016
“Bookmarked” by Martin L. Shoemaker
Reviewed by Robert L Turner III
In Martin L. Shoemaker’s “Bookmark” Andrew awakes after a session of brain mapping, only to discover that he is the recording and not the real person. As the recorded Andrew speaks with his interviewer, Dr. Morgan, he learns that his personality, intended to eventually go into a cloned body, is unstable and the researchers have to reset him regularly as they try to find a way to preserve human personality outside of the brain. The piece is an exceptional example of how to discuss deep moral and philosophical issues while maintaining a tight narrative that brings the reader along. This story will be added to the required readings for my SF classes.
“The Minotaur’s Wife” by Thomas K. Carpenter starts in a diner near a Navajo reservation and narrates the visit of a government agent who hopes to stop Honey, the Minotaur’s wife’s, plan. There is a slight twist at the end, but the story, while technically adroit, isn’t engaging and the pieces of the story don’t gel well. In the end, the story doesn’t bring much to the table.
“A Human’s Life” by George Nikolopoulos is a short, trite humor piece where the word human replaces cat or dog and the reader is told all the expected things about their care. Adopt, don’t buy from breeders, feed them a correct diet, etc. etc. etc. Other than the mildly humorous juxtaposition of owner and owned, there is nothing else to recommend the story.
“In the Yucky Death Mountains” by Eric Leif Davin is another light piece that plays on fantasy tropes and stereotypical male/female relations. In it, Utthar, who has had a vision, and his wife, Hildy get lost in the Yucky Death Mountains while on the way to the Promised Land. They stop at a disreputable inn, and have to deal with the band of brigands that inhabit it. As the title makes clear, this is a fluff piece, but a decent one. It doesn’t shine, but is readable.
“Another True History” by Gordon Eklund is a story I really wanted to like. The writing is polished and the tone fits the content well, the historical setting and use of baseball as a secondary plot device all works well. Unfortunately, the main story itself lacks coherence and logical progression. It starts with the appearance of nine, or eleven, space ships over the world’s capitals shortly after the first atom bomb is used in World War II. From there the plot slips and slides into a discussion on racism and jazz. Overall the story is enjoyable, but missed the opportunity to be more than that.
In “Dante’s Unfinished Business,” Dante, a stoner who owes money to his bookie wakes up dead. His spirit guide, Bob Marley, must help him resolve whatever unresolved issue has kept him from passing on to the next stage of existence. In this short story Alex Shvartsman puts a stoner spin on the original Dante’s Inferno. As is the case for many of this issue’s stories, this is a light laugh piece without much, if any, depth. Still, it’s a decent read.
“The Bag Lady” by David Gerrold is a brief piece, heavy with description that tells of a bag lady who is just a bit more than what she seems. Gerrold, of course, is a well-established and mature writer and this story reflects his skills. He manages to pack in a number of interesting ideas without losing the reader or his story line. I don’t want to add any more detail for fear that I will give away key elements, but this story certainly is worth the read.
“Manbat and Robin” by Larry Hodges is another comic piece, this time an inversion of Batman and Robin. Like “A Human’s Life” this story is a one note parody. A bat comes out once a month, dresses in a superhero outfit and fights crime with the aid of a robin. That’s it. Nothing more. Appropriate for a 10 year old.
Robert Turner is a professor and long term SF reader.