Clarkesworld #56, May 2011

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Clarkesworld #56, May 2011

“Whose Face This Is I Do Not Know” by Cat Rambo
“The Architect of Heaven” by Jason K. Chapman

Reviewed by Jo-Anne Odell

In “Whose Face This Is I Do Not Know” by Cat Rambo, A.J. mourns the death of Hettie, presumably a friend.  A.J. isn’t human, exactly.  What she is seems mutable, changing in appearance, gender, and species.  A.J. is the result of an experiment, and not the only one of her kind.  The doctor who created her isn’t a friend.

Ms. Rambo has the ability to set up interesting characters and situations, but if the three stories of hers I’ve reviewed this year are anything to go by, each tale invariably features an angst-ridden heroine and the man who’s done her wrong.  At this point, it feels very worn.

“The Architect of Heaven” by Jason K. Chapman tells us of Trent Bishop, a mining and building magnate, the third generation of his family on the moon, now a colony of millions.  Consumed by the details of his latest project, he realizes, too late, he’s lost the love of his life.  Irene DeSart has signed onto a ship named Diaspora, and will spend one-hundred-and-fifty years in cold sleep, journeying to another star system to create a new colony.  Trent is willing to give anything, everything, to join her.  He uses his entire fortune to design a second ship, the Irene.  Although it takes years, he discovers that those closest to him have caught the bug, and will come, too.  It’s during the testing of the Irene they discover something that changes all their plans.  

I found this to be a more compelling tale, of revelation and determination nicely nuanced with love and loyalty.  Flashbacks are devices I often find disorienting, but here they’re used to great effect as foreshadowing and to build tension.