January 2008 Asimov’s

With a couple of stand-out stories right off the bat, 2008 is looking like another great year for Asimov’s. Oh, and a pretty spiffy cover as well …

asimovs-edit-jan08.jpg

In Short:

06/12 – The Perfect Wave by Rudy Rucker & Marc Laidlaw
12/12 – Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders by Mike Resnick
12/12 – The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald by Tanith Lee
05/12 – The Whale’s Lover by Deborah Coates
10/12 – Unlikely by Will McIntosh

Also in this issue –

Galaxy Blues (Part Three of Four): The Fool’s Errand by Allen M. Steele
Editorial: Harry Potter and the Future of Reading by Sheila Williams
Reflections: Aladdin’s Cave by Robert Silverberg
On The Net: SFWA by James Patrick Kelly

One of the side benefits of reading Asimov’s is reading the monthly columns since they are almost always interesting and thought provoking and this month is no different. Sheila talks about Harry Potter-mania within her family and gives a good reason why those (including myself) who look down at the entire series, to think better of Harry Potter. Robert Silverberg’s column is sometimes worth the price of the magazine by itself and one of the things I most look forward to. This month’s column reflects on his young teenage adventures in tracking down old magazines in various little used magazine stores. He also talks about that feeling when you first discover something like SF or anime and you seek out ever single shred of SF or anime that you can get your hands on. This one was definitely worth the price of the magazine. And the final column this month is James Patrick Kelly’s about the SFWA. Being a reader of Boing Boing I know some of the circumstances that he only mentions in passing and I’ve formed a somewhat negative opinion about the SFWA because of this but by highlighting some of the good they do, maybe they’re not as bad as I thought they were (though being SF writers you’d think they’d be more forward thinking the organization sometimes acts.)

Light to Heavy spoilers about the stories continue below.

The Perfect Wave from which the cover pertains to is a story I’d like to like but ultimately feels like it’s missing something. The story revolves around a pizza shack on the California coast, it’s VR surfing game, a pair of employees, a would be stalker girlfriend, and the local rich brat. With this type of setup you kinda know the good guys will beat the local rich brat and they do with a good dose of handwavium in the middle. It’s lighthearted and fun but leaves me hungry like trying to use cotton candy as a meal would.

Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders is one of the standout stories of the issue and is already on the 2007 Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot (coming out in 2008 I don’t know how it’s eligible for the 2007 award but oh well). This story follows two life long friends that met at the local magic shop while they were little kids. They’ve started businesses together and when both of their wives have died, lived together in the twilight years of their lives. When the one decides on one last journey into the world to go to the magic store that brought so much joy to them as kids, it almost feels like they are going on a quixotic quest. I won’t ruin what they discover.

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the other truly outstanding stories of the issue. How would society react to a plague that is almost 100 percent lethal and would kill a person within a year of being infected. Total chaos would be a good answer. Now imagine if while your infected with this plague it would alter your DNA and you so that you’d turn into a perfect near-Godlike specimen of humanity. No matter the imperfection: age, weight, physique, height, the plague would fix it for you. How would the world react differently? Would some try to get infected because they’d be willing to trade a long life for 6 to 12 months of being physically flawless? Like I said earlier, a truly outstanding story and I can’t wait for Tanith Lee’s next story in Asimov’s.

The Whale’s Lover was my least favorite story of this issue. I think other people might like this story but for me the ending didn’t do anything for me. I liked the world building in this story.

Unlikely by Will McIntosh, is his first story in Asimov’s and I hope we will see more from him in the future. Sometimes very strange results come out of studying large groups of things. In this story, a statistician seems to prove that as long as two strangers are in close proximity to each other – the chance of accidents by the surrounding city dwellers is reduced. Is fate trying to nudge these two together or is this part of some natural force that we don’t know about before.

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