Short Fiction Friday: Asimov’s Science Fiction, March 2013

scan0056

REVIEW SUMMARY:  One strong short story and two fair novelettes stand out in comparison to a novella and short stories that never fully reach their potential.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS:   Time travel, the afterlife of nanotech, tactical warfare on a moon orbiting Mars, and an intimate look at two space-inspired young people and more await readers in the pages of the latest issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: One highly creative, thought-provoking short story; two novellettes that are fair; entertaining reflection on year’s best anthologies and their history by Robert Silverberg; nice editorial honoring early female astronauts.
CONS: A novella and short stories which felt like they could go somewhere interesting but never arrived.
BOTTOM LINE:  The March 2013 issue sits at the mediocre end of the spectrum in considering it against some of Asimov’s better offerings.  This is disappointing given the past quality of some of the included authors’ stories and the potential that almost every story appeared to have at the start.  Fans of the authors included should seek out the issue.  Those considering trying Asimov’s for the first time would be best served tracking down the January 2013 issue which set the standard impossibly high for the rest of the year.

Read the rest of this entry

Beyond The Sun is an anthology of space colonists stories currently being funded on Kickstarter. Editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt really needs your help to make it happen. Writers include Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Cat Rambo, Jennifer Brozek, Jamie Todd Rubin, Brad R. Torgersen, Jean Johnson, Erin Hoffman, Jason Sanford and more. If the project is funded, it will be released either print on demand by the editor or with a small press. The goal is to pay the authors and artists to illustrate the stories at professional rates. In this economy, many small presses are struggling, so the editor felt the concept and talent deserved better than token rates and decided to bring it before fandom and ask for support. There are some great prizes, including special artwork, signed copies, and more available to backers. Kickstarter has information on the anthology, including a full list of writers and artists, bios, guidelines and rewards. The project has less than 1 week remaining to fund. Please consider contributing to this exciting collection.

Visit the Kickstarter page for glimpses at Silverberg’s story, including the accompanying illustration and for links to stories by other invited writers. Grasping For The Wind has a free excerpt by Autumn Rachel Dryden.

And, as extra incentive to check out this fine anthology, here’s an exclusive excerpt of one of the stories, written by Jason Sanford.


Rumspringa

by Jason Sanford

The English arrived at the farm shortly before supper, their ship buzzing my draft horses and baling combine and kicking a cloud of hay dust into the dry air. Even though I wasn’t impressed with the ship’s acrobatics, my younger brother Sol, who’d been wrapping the hay bundles with twine, stared at the English with excitement. Knowing I wouldn’t get any more work out of him, I stopped the horses. The socket in the back of my head itched in resonance to our new visitors, which I took to be a particularly bad sign.

The ship landed by the barn and three English stepped off. One, an older woman named Ms. Watkins, had served as New Lancaster’s mediator between the Amish and English for the last three centuries and always respected our customs, as demonstrated by the plain gray dress she wore. The other English, though, didn’t share her regard. The man behind Ms. Watkins wore a blue militia uniform, a definite slap at our nonviolent beliefs, while the teenage girl beside him was naked except for a swirl of colors obscuring her private parts. She gazed around the farm and smiled when she spotted me.
Read the rest of this entry

Editor’s note: Nebula Award nominated author Jason Sanford is now publishing a monthly column in SF Signal called To the Ends of the Universe. These columns were originally printed in the Czech SF magazine XB-1. Jason’s new anthology Million Writers Award: The Best Online Science Fiction and Fantasy recently received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

Thanks to the instantaneous world of online communications, it’s easier than ever for writers in the United States to have their works translated and published for overseas audiences. Forget the weeks and months it once took reprint and translation requests to reach American shores by airmail or shipborne mail—today editors of overseas magazines like the Czech Republic’s XB-1 or China’s Science Fiction World can reach an American author or agent almost instantly. This revolution in international communications is one of the reasons my stories have been translated by magazines from around the world. Because of this, I’ve found readers and SF-friends in many countries, which delights me to no end.

But it often seems like this relationship only goes one way. While translations of a few big non-English-speaking science fiction authors can be found in the U.S.—such as the seminal Czech author Karel Capek or the Polish author Stanislaw Lem—for the most part American audiences don’t have the opportunity to read translated works. If you walk into your average American bookstore, less than 3% of the SF on the shelves was originally written in a language other than English.

Contrast this to the situation in many other countries, where translations of English-language SF make up to half the genre fiction market.

I’ve often wondered why this is the case, so recently I spent several weeks talking to genre readers and writers about this situation. Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Read the rest of this entry

TOC: Two New Million Writers Award Anthologies Edited by Jason Sanford

Jason Sanford has posted the table of contents for two (count ‘em) of his upcoming Million Writers Award anthologies anthologies, being publishd on June 14th:

Here are the tables of contents…
Read the rest of this entry


Editor’s note: Nebula Award nominated author Jason Sanford is now publishing a monthly column in SF Signal called “To the Ends of the Universe.” These columns were originally printed in the Czech SF magazine XB-1.

The highest grossing film of all-time is James Cameron’s science fiction epic Avatar. My wife, who is not by any consideration a fan of science fiction, loved the movie. As we left the theater after first seeing Avatar she raved on and on about the characters and special effects and emotional storyline. “Yes,” I replied. “It was a very good science fiction film.”

That stopped my wife in her tracks. “Science fiction?” she asked. “Avatar wasn’t science fiction.”

My mind was literally blown. I pointed out that the film involved aliens on an alien world, along with spaceships, futuristic technology, and so on. But my wife was adamant. The film had appealed to her because of the romance between the main characters and the political and environmental undertones of the human/native conflict. “Avatar might technically be science fiction,” she finally admitted, “but the film worked despite this fact.”
Read the rest of this entry

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Very rarely does a short fiction anthology score a home run with every single story it contains. Tastes differ from reader to reader. We asked this week’s participants to play the role of Editor:

Q: If you could publish a short fiction anthology containing up to 25 previously-published sf/f/h stories, which stories would it include and why?

Here’s what they said:

Nancy Kress
Nancy Kress is the author of 26 books of SF, fantasy, and writing advice. Her most recent novel is Steal Across the Sky (Tor, 2009), an SF novel about a crime committed by aliens against humanity 10,000 years ago – for which they would now like to atone. Her fiction has won multiple Nebula and Hugo awards, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

I teach SF often and have never been able to find the exact anthology I want to teach! This would be it. I know there are many wonderful stories I left out either because I had no room (you limited me to 25) or haven’t read them. There are also great writers whose novels I prefer to their short fiction. But this anthology would be a joy to teach.

  1. “Sandkings” by George R.R. Martin
  2. “Nine Lives” by Ursula K. LeGuin
  3. “Houston, Houston, Do You Read” by James Tiptree, Jr.
  4. “Morning Child” by Gardner Dozois
  5. “Johnny Mnemonic” by William Gibson
  6. “A Braver Thing” by Charles Sheffield
  7. “We See Things Differently” by Bruce Sterling
  8. “Firewatch” by Connie Willis
  9. “The Faithful Companion at Forty” by Karen Joy Fowler
  10. “Baby Makes Three” by Theodore Sturgeon
  11. “Continued on the Next Rock” by R.A. Lafferty
  12. “When It Changed” by Joanna Russ
  13. “For I Have Touched the Sky” by Mike Resnick
  14. “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
  15. “Dead Worlds” by Jack Skillingstead
  16. “Divining Light” by Ted Kosmatka
  17. “Blood Music” by Greg Bear
  18. “The Undiscovered” by William Sanders
  19. “The Stars My Destination” by Alfred Bester
  20. “The Star” by Arthur Clarke
  21. “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” by Neil Gaiman
  22. “Daddy’s World” by Walter Jon Williams
  23. “The People of Sand and Slag” by Paolo Bacigalupi
  24. “Lincoln Train” by Maureen McHugh
  25. “Aye, and Gomorrah” by Samuel L. Delaney

Read the rest of this entry

The recently-announced 2009 Nebula Award ballot includes lots of great fiction from lots of great writers and only hints at all the great work being published. So we asked this year’s nominees this question:

Q: If your work couldn’t have been on the ballot this year, what work would you have liked in its place?

Here’s what they said…

[Note: Due to my poor interviewing skills, there were multiple revisions of this question ultimately intending to clarify that its intent was not to slight any of the fiction that was nominated, but rather, to name additional works that are also award-worthy. Along the way, I also left open the possibility that panelists could name work in any category. Any perceived lack of cohesion in this Mind Meld is thus entirely of my own making — but I think you’ll find plenty of great titles to seek out in addition to the one’s on this year’s Nebula ballot. So there.]

Scott Westerfeld
Scott Westerfeld is the author of five adult and ten young adult books, including the Risen Empire and Uglies series. His latest is Leviathan, the first of an illustrated steampunk trilogy.

I’d have liked to see Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, a post-zombie-apocalypse novel.

Read the rest of this entry

This week’s topic comes from Madeline Ashby:

What Are Your Top 5 Anime Films of All Time?

Read on to see the picks of this week’s illustrious panelists.

[Note: Following the responses will be a completely unscientific (but fun) list of The Top 14 Anime Films of All Time!]

Charles Stross
Charles Stross‘ first novel, Singularity Sky burst onto the science fiction scene in 2003 and earning Stross a Hugo nomination. Since then he has earned several awards for his novels, and his works Missile Gap and Accelerando are available online. His other novels include Glasshouse, Halting State, Saturn’s Children, Wireless, the books in The Merchant Princes series and the books in The Laundry series. In addition to writing, Stross has worked as a technical author, freelance journalist, programmer, and pharmacist. He holds degrees in Pharmacy and Computer Science, and some of the creatures he created for his Dungeons and Dragons adventures, the Death Knight and Githyanki, were published by TSR in the Fiend Folio.

I’ll peg my faves as being:

  1. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Asks some interesting questions about identity that pick up where the first GITS movie left off. Honourable mention also goes to GITS and GITS: Stand Alone Compex.)
  2. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki can do no wrong. It was this, or Princess Mononoke, or Howl’s Moving Castle, or …)
  3. Haibane Renmei (Haunting, weird exploration of self-discovery, death, and the loss of innocence via allegory)
  4. Akira (Just Because. Okay?)
  5. Serial Experiment Lain (More on identity and communication — you’re probably detecting a theme here, right?)

Read the rest of this entry

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Larry Eisenberg

[SF Signal welcomes the return of Jason Sanford with this exclusive interview!]

Anyone who read science fiction short stories in the 1960s and ’70s should remember Larry Eisenberg. His wonderful story “What Happened to Auguste Clarot?” was selected by Harlan Ellison for the visionary anthology Dangerous Visions, while more than 50 other Eisenberg stories were published during that time period in top genre magazines such as F&SF, Galaxy, If, and Asimov’s. Among the anthologies which have reprinted his stories are Great Science Fiction of the 20th Century, Great Science Fiction By the World’s Great Scientists, and The 10th Annual of the Year’s Best SF.

Many of Eisenberg’s stories feature Professor Emmett Duckworth, a researcher, humanist, and twice winner of the Nobel Prize. Among Duckworth’s many memorable inventions is an addictive aphrodisiac clocking in at 150,000 calories per ounce—along with a propensity to turn those taking it into walking bombs. The Duckworth stories use humor and wit to examine both scientific research and those seeking to profit from such research. As Eisenberg admits, his Duckworth stories were inspired by his work at the prestigious Rockefeller University, where Eisenberg worked as a biomedical engineer and helped create the first pacemaker using radio frequencies to stimulate the heart.

Eisenberg’s last published science fiction story, “Live It Up, Inc.,” appeared in F&SF in 1988. Set to turn 90 in December and still living in his hometown of New York City, Eisenberg continues to write. However, these days he has returned to his early love of limericks (having published two books of limericks back in the 1960s). About a year ago readers of the online edition of the New York Times began noticing incredibly witty limericks posted by a “Larry Eisenberg” in the comment section of many news articles. These limericks poke fun at the high and mighty and quickly gained a cult following on the newspaper’s website.

For example, the following limerick appeared in a NY Times article about Sarah Palin’s new memoir:

The Palin memoir will reveal

How despondent poor Sarah did feel,

When Couric persisted

And grimly insisted

On answers, a prospect Unreal!

We can now confirm that these NY Times limericks are written by the same Larry Eisenberg whose SF stories we’ve known and loved.

Read the rest of this entry

SF Tidbits for 10/22/09

TIP: Follow SF Signal on Twitter and Facebook for additional tidbits not posted here!

SF Tidbits for 9/16/09

TIP: Follow SF Signal on Twitter and Facebook for additional tidbits not posted here!

SF Tidbits for 8/28/09

TIP: Follow SF Signal on Twitter and Facebook for additional tidbits not posted here!

SF Tidbits for 8/13/09

TIP: Follow SF Signal on Twitter and Facebook for additional tidbits not posted here!

SF Tidbits for 8/10/09

TIP: Follow SF Signal on Twitter and Facebook for additional tidbits not posted here!

As is usual around awards-time, there is much discussion about the usefulness of awards, the books that made the list of finalists, and what the Best Novel shortlist says about the field. With the Hugo awards coming up, we thought it timely to ask this week’s panelists a series of Hugo-related questions:

  1. How would you rate the track record of the Hugo Awards at directing readers to the best that the genre has to offer?
  2. How well do you think the Hugo shortlist, year over year, represents to the outside world what speculative fiction has to offer?
  3. Which of this year’s finalists do you predict will receive the Hugo award for Best Novel?
  4. Which of this year’s finalists do you think should receive the Hugo award for Best Novel?
  5. Which books do you think were missing from this year’s list of Best Novel finalists?

Read on to see their answers…

Cheryl Morgan
Cheryl has been active in the science fiction community for many years with her Emerald City magazine. She can currently be found writing at Cheryl’s Mewsings and at SF Awards Watch.

1. How would you rate the track record of the Hugo Awards at directing readers to the best that the genre has to offer?

I wouldn’t. The Hugos are a popular vote award. The books that win are generally good books, but it would be silly to suggest that they are representative of some ideal of literary quality (always assuming you agree that such a thing exists in the first place). Furthermore, Hugo winners are always books of their time, voted on very quickly after they are published. It is entirely possible that deserving works get missed because they are not as widely available as books offered by the major US publishers. Also books do sometimes fail the test of time. What I will say is that the Hugos have a good track record of rewarding books that are good examples of the sort of science fiction that was popular in the year they were voted upon. It is probably better to look at the full nomination slate than just the winner, but I think very few Hugo winners have been bad books (except in the eyes of those who feel that any book that doesn’t meet their exacting standards is, de facto, BAD!!!).

Read the rest of this entry