feb 2011 asimov’s

This being a review of the February 2011 Asimov's.

  • "Out of the Dream Closet", by David Ira Cleary (novelette) — If this isn't an anime, it needs to be. The themes and images remind me a lot of Haibane Renmei and the works of Hayao Miyazaki. The main character, who calls herself Little Girl, is ~60 years old, but her body has been frozen at about 12 by her father, who believes that that is the ideal age. Her father, whose physical body has become bloated and mutated, has decided to die by uploading himself into the literalized cloud-mind, whose moods make the weather of the world, and Little Girl has to deal with the fallout of that decision while trying to persuade her father to free her to grow up. Definitely the best story of the issue.
  • "Waster Mercy", by Sara Genge (short story) — A monk whose order exists to atone for the excesses of the modern age, looking for salvation, strands himself in the post-apocalyptic wasteland outside Paris and is saved by a local boy. Interesting, but I didn't like it as much as I've liked some of her other stories.
  • "Planet of the Sealies", by Jeff Carlson (short story) — Continuing the unstated "alien archaeology" theme of the issue, a group of clone families mine the landfills of post-apocalyptic California for genetic material to increase the diversity of their genomes. I found the world of the story fascinating, but I wished its resolution was less black-and-white.
  • "Shipbirth", by Aliette de Bodard (short story) — Set in the same Aztec-flavored universe as her other stories, a… transgendered necromancer…? attends the failed birth of a starship. Creepy (as you'd expect from the Aztecs) and good but lacking in some way I can't put my finger on.
  • "Brother Sleep", by Tim McDaniel (short story) — The main character is a wealthy student in a Thailand where he and all his peers have had a medical treatment such that they need to sleep only a few hours each night (shades of Nancy Kress's Beggars in Spain). His roommate hasn't had the treatment, and the story deals with their interactions. It has some moments, and it's an interesting choice of setting, but it gets preachy in a Westerners-tell-non-Westerners-what's-wrong-with-them way towards the end. Tangentially, my envy of the non-sleepers knows no bounds.
  • "Eve of Beyond", by Barry Pronzini and Bill N. Malzberg (short story) — A clothing magnate is bought out by his ruthless and amoral competitors. This is science fiction? Mediocre at best.
  • "The Choice", by Paul McAuley (novella) — Unusual for me to read the novella, but the beginning (more alien archaeology) grabbed me. A post-global warming world where benevolent (or are they?) aliens showed up just in time to save us from ourselves. I really like the worldbuilding at the beginning, and a lingering fondness for sailing stories kept me engaged and enjoying the story while the main characters chased the crashed Big Dumb Object, until they found it and ended up taking something they shouldn't have, at which point predictable (and deathly dull) hilarity ensued.