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5/06 UPDATE: My New Year’s Resolution

This is the May 2006 update of my New Year’s Resolution.



05/03/06 “Guardian Angel” 2005 Mike Resnick Down These Dark Spaceways edited by Mike Resnick NA 4 158
05/06/06 “Into the Quake Zone” 2005 David Gerrold NA 4 162
05/07/06 “The City of Cries” 2005 Catherine Asaro NA 4 166
05/X08/06 “Camouflage” 2005 Robert Reed NA 4 170
05/10/06 “The Big Downtown” 2005 Jack McDevitt NA 4 174
05/11/06 “Beggars in Spain” 1991 Nancy Kress The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Ninth Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois NA 4 178
05/29/06 “The Past Master” 1955 Robert Bloch The Best of Robert Bloch NV 2 180

KEY:VI=Vignette (.25 points), SS=Short Story (1 point), NV=Novelette (2 points), NA=Novella (4 points)

NOTE: Click the Source link to see the associated review. Miscellaneous reviews follow

“Beggars in Spain” by Nancy Kress [1991 novella] (Rating: ) [Read 05/11/06]

  • Source: The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Ninth Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois
  • Synopsis: The plight of Leisha Camden, one of the “Sleepless” who are genetically bred to never need sleep. As a result, they are more productive, more intelligent and subsequently shunned by the “Sleepers”.
  • Review: The low-key but tense opening seen of Roger and Elizabeth Camden specifying their designer baby (and insisting on the alterable trait of sleeplessness) soon moves to the early years of Leisha and her twin sister Alice. Leisha is the Sleepless adored by rich patriarch Roger while Alice is the unplanned Sleeper adored by bitter mother Elizabeth. The twin sisters are not treated as equals in this dysfunctional family, a situation forced by Roger’s domineering presence and money. The Camdens subscribe to the Yagai school of philosophy which is predicated on the belief that spiritual dignity and joy is obtained through supporting oneself through mutually beneficial trade. This worldview clouds Leisha’s vision as the Sleepers’ hate and prejudice mounts and they begin to turn against the Sleepless when they get the better jobs, make more money and (as they soon learn) achieve a form of immortality. The pressure on Leisha to retreat to the Sleepless-built Sanctuary is enormous. Eventually, she succumbs to the “dark side” and sees the Sleepers as the enemy. But is there a lesson to be learned? Are the ideas behind Yagaiism flawed? Are the symbolically-mentioned beggars from Spain, who have nothing to give, unworthy of compassion? These issues are just some of the issues that make you think – genetic engineering is also great springboard for thought-provoking issues – and this story is stuffed with them. Kress’ realistic characterizations add much to the enjoyment of this story. Nicely done!
  • Note: Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1992.
  • Note: This story was later expanded to the novel Beggars in Spain which has subsequently spawned the two sequels Beggars and Choosers (1994) and Beggar’s Ride (1996).

“The Past Master” by Robert Bloch [1955 novelette] (Rating: ) [Read 05/29/06]

  • Source: The Best of Robert Bloch
  • Synopsis: A man from the future tries to save art masterpieces from imminent wartime destruction.
  • Review: A classic sf story that is, by this day and age, all-too-predictable, but that in no way stops this from being a great story. The story of the visitor named Smith is told through first-person accounts, starting with his arrival on a eastern beach. There is one account from the shady character who procures most of the art work for Smith that was slightly longer than it needed to be, but it was essential to bridge the gap between his arrival and his ill-fated departure. The Russian paranoia of the 1950’s permeates this story and helps give it that classic feel. Great stuff.
About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

4 Comments on 5/06 UPDATE: My New Year’s Resolution

  1. I just finished updating most of my count. I still have to dig around for some magazine shorts and anthology shorts that I did not list, then do reviews for those and a bunch by Benford, Drake and Campbell. My straight count (none of your SF Signal mumbo-jumbo here, one story or essay is one story or essay!) is around 117 for the year (“around” due to those scattered stories I have forgotten to note!)

  2. Ack Fred – please don’t paint the rest of us with ‘John point system’ brush! 😀

  3. What’s that, Scott? You want me to change the point tracker from a sidebar widget to a daily post? I’ll get right on it… :-@

  4. 142 stories now.

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