“A Reminder of Old Earth” by Aaron Perry
Reviewed by Chuck Rothman
Deep Magic starts off its Spring issue with the novelette “A Reminder of Old Earth.” Lupe raises avocados and is forced to move when Earth is evacuated. Earth vegetation is not allowed on other planets because it’s considered to be nothing but dangerous invasive species, and, not wanting the avocado to go extinct, she contacts the smuggler Poe to get their seeds off planet and onto another world. Poe is willing, but snags occur, including awaking the suspicions of Benny, a deeply skeptical customs agent. Aaron Perry creates a strong future world with a lot of action. Things do not go very smoothly, but it finishes with a strong and surprising ending.
Alfred Smith contributes “Gift of Silence,” set in a world where singing competitions are important for status. Mara watches the audition of her son Andinen and, in the middle his song becomes a weapon that causes disaster. Mara knows it’s not Andinen’s fault, but he is the obvious villain. I didn’t feel like the story worked all that well; Mara doesn’t seem to acknowledge that people have every right to believe that Andinen is a danger and I felt the resolution rushed.
In KM Dailey‘s “Don’t Wake the Dreamer,” Monica finds herself in a lecture where the professor is speaking gibberish and quickly realizes this is just a dream. But when Quin shows up—without pants—Monica realizes that, though this was a dream, it was Quin who was dreaming, and that if he woke up, she would no longer exist. Her goal then is to keep Quin dreaming—until she learns the reason for the dream, at which point she has fallen at least partly in love. I loved Monica’s dilemma as well as the freshness of the concept, and the ending that doesn’t shy away from going where it needs to go.
“Foreign Bodies” by Melinda Brasher is a medical mystery set on a colony world, where people are coming into sickbay nauseated and also having hallucinations of being stalked by various animals from Earth that don’t exist on this world. Slowly more and more people succumb to the sickness, as Elizabeth tries to figure out its cause. It’s sort of like several Star Trek episodes that feature a race against time to find the cure for a disease. In this case, though the solution is well thought out and the mystery carries the story.
Carrie Anne Noble‘s “The Peddler’s Reward” finishes the issue with a fantasy set in 1871. O’Neill travels with a peddler and his skilled horsemanship impresses the head of the Gaskins’s circus, who offers him the hand of his seventh daughter, Mizella. Well, less an offer than it is a command: they are to marry, and O’Neill has little say about it. He’s also a bit scared of Mizella, who is beautiful, but has teeth like knives. His hesitation causes Mizella to run away into the nearby swamp, which makes her father give O’Neill an ultimatum: bring her back, or face our wrath. The story is filled with wonder and surprises.
Overall, this is a very good issue. The stories introduce new concepts in interesting ways.