Asimov’s, July 2011
“Day 29” by Chris Beckett
“The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell
“Pug” by Theodora Goss
“Dunyon” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“The Music of the Sphere” by Norman Spinrad
“Bring on the Rain” by Josh Roseman
“Twelvers” by Leah Cypess
“The Messenger” by Bruce McAllister
Reviewed by Rena Hawkins
July’s issue of Asimov’s opens with “Day 29,” a novelette by Chris Beckett. Stephen is a data analyst on the colony world of Lutania and seems to prefer numbers over human interaction. When Stephen’s three years of duty ends, no one is really sorry to see him go. What’s stressing Stephen out the most isn’t leaving, it’s the fact that he has to stop working for forty days before his molecules are zipped off to his new assignment. Why? Because he will possibly forget everything he does for those last 40 days, and day 29 will definitely be the last day he remembers.
This story just didn’t work for me. While touted as a horror story, I didn’t find it very frightening. The story never seemed to find a focus, bouncing from Stephen and his memory concerns to the mind-reading indigenes to the down-home locals who have settled on the planet. Stephen starts out in the story not really caring for the company of other humans and ends up…not really caring for the company of other humans.
The second novelette in this issue is “The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell. This is the third in a series of alternate history stories about Jonathan Hamilton, an agent for a very-close-to-earth British Empire. When Hamilton’s former lover, Lustre Saint Clair (gotta love this name), shows up after 15 years looking no older and speaking a language no one understands, the plot twists begin.
An enjoyable story, but a little hard to completely follow without the background info from the previous stories.
“Pug” by Theodora Goss is the tale of a magical door that allows certain people to walk through and interact with others who they might not ordinarily ever meet. Set in a Jane Austen-esque time period, “Pug” is written in lovely language, but the story doesn’t really linger in the mind after story‘s end.
Why would hope cause desperate people to become dangerous? Find out in “Dunyon” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. My favorite short story of the issue.
“The Music of the Sphere” by Norman Spinrad verges more on fantasy than science fiction. A story of the power and language of music, with ecology thrown into the mix, it starts a little slow, but builds in strength by the end.
In “Bring on the Rain” by Josh Roseman, we are given a post-apocalyptic earth where most of the drinkable water has evaporated and the surviving citizens travel across the desert-like continents battling for the water they can recover from infrequent rainstorms.
I couldn’t keep from thinking that if the storm at the heart of the story is truly the largest in living memory, why couldn’t the two groups stay miles away from each other and each reclaim rainwater instead of wasting time and resources fighting? The premise of the story doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
“Twelvers” by Leah Cypess hits the point that teenagers will bitch about anything that makes someone different from the group. Darla Tarpin is very calm for her age; too calm, in fact. Turns out Darla is a twelver, someone who was incubated in an artificial womb for twelve months instead of the usual nine and is incapable of expressing normal anger and stress. While Darla might not strike out or react in anger like those around her, when she discovers the secret of the best friend who has betrayed her, she certainly gets even.
The issue closes with “The Messenger” by Bruce McAllister. Tim’s father is dying and the question that tears at him the most is whether his wife, Tim’s mother, actually loved him. To answer his father’s question and hopefully bring him some peace, Tim travels back in time to meet his parents and see for himself. A short, poignant story about whether you can ever be sure where love is concerned.