REVIEW SUMMARY: A good collection of stories and one stinker.
PROS: Some excellent, top-notch stories
CONS: One stinker of a short story.
BOTTOM LINE: More than worth the 25 cents I paid for it.
Following are the individual reviewlettes for each story in this issue.
- The Gravity Mine by Stephen Baxter [short story] (Rating: ) [Read 01/04/04]
- Synopsis: A human from a super-far future attains consciousness periodically and learns about the state of man and the universe; a universe where large clumps of matter (i.e. planets, stars) are no longer evident, and evolved humans mine energy from black holes. Anlic, an accidentally created being, awakens three times. The first time, she has no identity but befriends a co-being name Geador. The second time, millennia later, the inheritor of Geodor’s memories tell Anlic that her birthplace, Mine One, has been long abandoned. The final awakening brings Anlic back to Mine One to nurture another newly-born being.
- Review: Baxter, in his usual millennia-spanning, and sometimes esoteric, style excels at portraying galaxy-wide concepts filled with a sense of wonder. I mean, humans living in and mining cluster-size black holes? How cool is that?
- This was deservedly a finalist for the 2001 Hugo nominee for Best Short Story.
- Also available online @ Infinity Plus
- Green Chains by Deborah Wheeler [short story] (Rating: ) [Read 01/09/04]
- Synopsis: A woman consoles her friend whose Mother has just died.
- Review: This was a well-written story (easy to read and descriptive), I’ll give it that much. But, excuse me? Where’s the science fiction? There is a vague hint of fantasy at the end of the story when Moselle, the main character, sees her grieving friend through her own dead mother’s eyes (I think). Ultimately, a well-written, but super-boring, story.
- The Prophet Ugly by Robert Reed [novelette] (Rating: ) [Read 03/05/04]
- Synopsis: Humans are the recipients of alien gifts including a cranial implant which makes them more intelligent (rendering schools obsolete). The benefactors, named “The Uglies” because of their caveman-like appearance, are actually a separate evolutionary strand of man, whose DNA samples were taken from Earth millions of years ago. Now, a lone Ugly has returned to reveal the truth of their origins and intentions. One single teen is sympathetic to his mission in a town of hostile protestors.
- Review: Excellent story that had a fairy-tale-like feel. As usual, Reed’s writing style was enjoyable and filled with the usual sense-of wonder. Making the lead character young lent an air of innocence to the story.
- Regression by Brian Stableford [novelette] (Rating: ) [Read : 03/05/04]
- Synopsis: A man uses biofeedback techniques to uncover an evil. Mr. Hyde-like personality dwelling within himself. Along for the ride is his old college buddy.
- Review: Wow. Stories don’t get any better than this. I was riveted to every word. Stableford writes with astonishing clarity and spins an exceptionally well-told tale. I couldn’t read it fast enough.
- At Lightspeed Slowing by Cory Doctorow [novelette] (Rating: ) [Read : 03/08/04]
- Synopsis: Leo Kaufman travels to the Costa Rican jungle to retrieve his brother, Bryan, from a low-tech “cult” so that he may attend their sick and dying mother back in Canada.
- Review: Good story although the science is present is mainly sociology. The cult/commune eschews the high-tech, hectic lifestyle in favor of hard labor and a sense of community. The wayward brother, Bryan, was caught up in the TV-soaked, computer-dependent lifestyle of his peers until he decided that the low-tech community of the Costa Rican jungle community was better for him.
- Loosely based on the authors real-life experiences.
- From Mars and Venus by Robert R. Chase [short story] (Rating: ) [Read 03/10/04]
- Synopsis: An investigation of comet dust leads to dissertations on the battle of the sexes. (Get it? Mars and Venus?)
- Review: Mediocre story. Not much of a plot, just fleeting glimpses along a similar theme.
- Green Fire by Eileen Gunn, Andy Duncan, Pat Murphy, and Michael Swanwick [novelette] (Rating: ) [Read 03/10/04]
- Synopsis: Fictional tale in which Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein experience inter-dimensional adventures during WWII as part of the “Philadelphia Experiment” aboard the USS Eldridge.
- Review: Aside from the use of real life science fiction authors as characters in a fictional story (probably apropos for this 22nd anniversary edition of the magazine), this was actually a pretty decent, page-turning adventure tale.
- Also available online.