september 2010 asimov’s

Here’s my review of the September 2010 issue of Asimov’s, before I leave it on the plane in the hopes someone else will find it and enjoy it. (It’s a good issue.)

  • “Backlash”, by Nancy Fulda (novelette) — A cute time-traveling retired-spy-back-into-service story, which, unusually for the spy genre, features a reasonably accurate portrayal of said spy dealing with PTSD. (PTSD: It’s not just nicely-cinematic flashbacks.)
  • “The Palace in the Clouds”, by Eugene Mirabelli (short story) — Not to be confused with the cover story, Geoffrey Landis’s The Sultan of the Clouds. It posits an aging steampunk Venice-of-the-sky, which makes for some gorgeous imagery, and goes from there. It’s either inspired by Hayao Miyazaki, or he should totally make a movie of it, or both — the image of a slowly-failing flying city and the main characters, a young boy and his aviator uncle, are all tailor-made for his style. As with Miyazaki, you won’t find any deep philosophy here, more themes of family and growing up, but that’s not a bad thing.
  • “Wheat Rust”, by Benjamin Crowell (novelette) — Does a decent job at a story of a generation ship and the people who live there and their divergent cultures, and notably a story whose stakes are much smaller than The Destruction Of The Entire WorldWShip! (As you might gather from the name, the main characters are trying to prevent an agrigultural plague.)
  • “For Want of a Nail”, by Mary Robinette Kowal (short story) — Another generation ship story, with a bit of interesting generation ship morality, plus some AI morality. AIs used as the collective memory of families over generations.
  • “The Sultan of the Clouds”, by Geoffrey Landis (novella) — Geoffrey Landiss is a NASA scientist, so he obviously does a good job with the geophysics of a colony of floating cities on Mars. Thankfully he does it without letting it overwhelm the story, which has some nice bits of character development and some interesting speculation about alternative family structures a la Heinlein.
  • “The View from the Other Side: Science Fiction in Non-Western/Non-Anglophone Countries”, by Aliette de Bodard (nonfiction) — A follow-up to Norman Spinrad’s obnoxious book review column I complained about back in April. It can be summarized as “why the opinions and perspectives of anyone but white men matter ever 101”, and so pretty basic, but probably useful to start educating the clueless. (sigh)

Currently reading: the latest issue of Apex Magazine, Cat Valente’s first as fiction editor!