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Asimov's Science Fiction, September 2015

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CONTENTS Novella "The Molenstraat Music Festival" by Sean Monaghan Novelette "Biology at the End of the World" by Brenda Cooper Short Stories "The God Year" by Jim Grimsley "Duller's Peace" by Jason Sanford "Calved" by Sam J. Miller "Last Hunt" by Vylar Kaftan "Searching for Commander Parsec" by Peter Wood Poetry "Haleakalā: House of the Sun" by Shawn Fitzpatrick "Intimations of a Dead CONTENTS Novella "The Molenstraat Music Festival" by Sean Monaghan Novelette "Biology at the End of the World" by Brenda Cooper Short Stories "The God Year" by Jim Grimsley "Duller's Peace" by Jason Sanford "Calved" by Sam J. Miller "Last Hunt" by Vylar Kaftan "Searching for Commander Parsec" by Peter Wood Poetry "Haleakalā: House of the Sun" by Shawn Fitzpatrick "Intimations of a Dead Immortality" by Bruce Boston "Hard Copy" by Herb Kauderer "The Astronaut's Heart" by Robert Borski Departments "Editorial: Two Memorials" by Sheila Williams "Reflections: The Sixth Palace" by Robert Silverberg "On Books" by Paul Di Filippo "SF Conventional Calendar" by Erwin S. Strauss Asimov's Science Fiction, September 2015, Vol. 39, No. 9 (Whole No. 476) Sheila Williams, editor Cover art by CSA Images


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CONTENTS Novella "The Molenstraat Music Festival" by Sean Monaghan Novelette "Biology at the End of the World" by Brenda Cooper Short Stories "The God Year" by Jim Grimsley "Duller's Peace" by Jason Sanford "Calved" by Sam J. Miller "Last Hunt" by Vylar Kaftan "Searching for Commander Parsec" by Peter Wood Poetry "Haleakalā: House of the Sun" by Shawn Fitzpatrick "Intimations of a Dead CONTENTS Novella "The Molenstraat Music Festival" by Sean Monaghan Novelette "Biology at the End of the World" by Brenda Cooper Short Stories "The God Year" by Jim Grimsley "Duller's Peace" by Jason Sanford "Calved" by Sam J. Miller "Last Hunt" by Vylar Kaftan "Searching for Commander Parsec" by Peter Wood Poetry "Haleakalā: House of the Sun" by Shawn Fitzpatrick "Intimations of a Dead Immortality" by Bruce Boston "Hard Copy" by Herb Kauderer "The Astronaut's Heart" by Robert Borski Departments "Editorial: Two Memorials" by Sheila Williams "Reflections: The Sixth Palace" by Robert Silverberg "On Books" by Paul Di Filippo "SF Conventional Calendar" by Erwin S. Strauss Asimov's Science Fiction, September 2015, Vol. 39, No. 9 (Whole No. 476) Sheila Williams, editor Cover art by CSA Images

30 review for Asimov's Science Fiction, September 2015

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    Pretty good! I enjoyed this issue. In order from most appealing to least, we have: 5-Stars "Biology at the End of the World" by Brenda Cooper This was just a wonderful story! I really enjoy stories where the ethics behind "doing the right thing" are murky. Well written, with great characters, and a highly engaging read indeed! 4-Stars "Duller's Peace" by Jason Sanford I didn't expect this one to be very impressive based on the first paragraph or two, but it did develop into something quite memorable, Pretty good! I enjoyed this issue. In order from most appealing to least, we have: 5-Stars "Biology at the End of the World" by Brenda Cooper This was just a wonderful story! I really enjoy stories where the ethics behind "doing the right thing" are murky. Well written, with great characters, and a highly engaging read indeed! 4-Stars "Duller's Peace" by Jason Sanford I didn't expect this one to be very impressive based on the first paragraph or two, but it did develop into something quite memorable, and I do recommend this story. The ending was a bit obvious, but the frightening world-building helped make this a success. "Searching for Commander Parsec" by Peter Wood A delightfully whimsical story that at some times seems unintentionally hilarious (in a good way), and a rewarding if quick read. 3-Stars "The God Year" by Jim Grimsley A predictable ending, and actually the plot's resolution is quite pointless beyond serving as revenge wish-fulfilment. The main attraction here is the unique world the author created, and the language. I guess it must be difficult to write in that style consistently, and the author did a good job, but there's only so much pleasure to be had while reading stories of characters that amount to deplorably degenerate half-wits. "Last Hunt Poster” by Vylar Kaftan An interesting use of a common SF motif (alien contact) to focus on the tough decisions facing a rather unique character. "The Moleenstraat Music Festival" by Sean Monaghan Well-written and able to keep my interest, this touching story isn't really my thing. The girl with a head injury could use a medical intervention to help her regain her ability to focus on playing music. And the old guy could use some help with his arthritic hands. So of course they both resist, and the ending is a bit obvious. Not a bad story. Not my preference, however. 1-Star "Calved" by Sam J. Miller A story that could be rewritten and not be science-fictional at all, and an ending that I found stupidly unconvincing based on what the boy's father has yearned for throughout the entire story.

  2. 5 out of 5

    G33z3r

    Oh, boy, a really good issue of Asimov's! Both the novelettes, especially, were excellent: Brenda Cooper's "Biology at the End of the World" takes us into the distant future, where most of humanity lives in space. The Earth is a mess from ecological, technological, and biological mistakes. To make sure it doesn't happen again, a government agency forbids playing with DNA, and this is the story of a pair of its inspectors searching out illegal genetic labs. The story doesn't actually go where you Oh, boy, a really good issue of Asimov's! Both the novelettes, especially, were excellent: Brenda Cooper's "Biology at the End of the World" takes us into the distant future, where most of humanity lives in space. The Earth is a mess from ecological, technological, and biological mistakes. To make sure it doesn't happen again, a government agency forbids playing with DNA, and this is the story of a pair of its inspectors searching out illegal genetic labs. The story doesn't actually go where you might expect, and I found it very engrossing read, too. ****1/2* Sean Monaghan "The Moleenstraat Music Festival" takes us to an even more distant future. On a sparsely colonized planet, a woman brings her daughter to a retired cello instructor. The daughter suffered brain damage falling off a horse, and can't maintain concentration long enough to finish a piece. Modern technology makes implants available for correcting such things, just as they do for fixing the retired instructors arthritis, yet neither party seems ready to embrace the newfangled technology. Terrific characters, surprisingly engaging story. ***** On the short story section, a couple of them caught my fancy: Jason Sanford's "Duller's Peace" creates a future dystopia far beyond Orwell's imagination. Motes spread in the atmosphere allow the government to know everything about everyone, from their health to their thoughts. The granddaughter of a former revolutionary tries hard to remember she loves her nation. This was a little confusing at the opening, and has us wondering if the "motes" are just a figment of grandpa's tinfoil hat imagination. After a couple of pages, the storyline catches fire and I became totally engrossed in both the plot and the main character. **** Peter Wood's "Searching for Commander Parsec" was an amusing and enjoyable short about a kid listening to an old radio drama that vanished with the 50's, and the struggles of the kid's divorced mother to make her son happy. Cute premise, enjoyable characters. ****

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    An interesting mix of stories greater than the sum of its parts. That is, I liked the variety more than I liked the individual stories: A lighter story was refreshing. As expected, at least one family drama - wouldn't be Asimov's without that domestic slant. Also as expected, at least one story centered around the consequences of the climate change. To be honest, I've already grown weary of this 'default future' setting. No surprise my favorite story was set in the far future. Biology at the E An interesting mix of stories greater than the sum of its parts. That is, I liked the variety more than I liked the individual stories: A lighter story was refreshing. As expected, at least one family drama - wouldn't be Asimov's without that domestic slant. Also as expected, at least one story centered around the consequences of the climate change. To be honest, I've already grown weary of this 'default future' setting. No surprise my favorite story was set in the far future. Biology at the End of the World by Brenda Cooper The protagonist is a sort of DNA detective who assures scientific compliance with genetic purity laws. Basically the story extrapolates the fear of GMOs into a futuristic setting where earth is ringed by orbital stations. I enjoyed the ethical back-n-forth arguments, but the character arc underneath was atrophied. This was a story for the mind and not the heart. Duller's Peace by Jason Sanford A dystopian tale told from the point of view of a conquered peoples (a little girl, to be precise). Nanites float through the air, infiltrating people's meatspace and brainspace. Treacherous thoughts can lead to bad mojo. Basically, it's a dystopia on steroids. Calved by Sam J Miller More or less a family drama involving a father who has failed his life and is attempting to reconnect with his distant son. There was some good writing here, but it takes a lot to make me like a family drama. This one didn't quite pull through. Some issues with consistency in the character's thoughts damaged my connection with the father. As a result, the ending felt forced, as well as being blatantly telegraphed. Furthermore, the sci-fi trappings were superfluous which always lowers my estimation of a sci-fi story. Last Hunt by Vylar Kaftan A piece about an Inuit (I believe) transgender who witnesses the crash of a UFO. It felt like an 'affirmative action' story. I enjoy seeing new cultures and characters, but I like them to actually do something in the story. So I appreciated the authentic-feeling Inuit culture aspects, but there wasn't much actual movement in the plot. Not surprisingly, the ending provided little resolution either. Searching for Commander Parsec by Peter Wood A light tale about a woman and her son who is listening to radio broadcasts that shouldn't be possible. It didn't strictly make sense (why would REAL radio broadcasts sound like a radio program?) but it was nevertheless a light, enjoyable story. Not every story has to be deeeeeep. The Molenstraat Music Festival by Sean Monaghan A story set in the far future about a very gifted young musician who has an accident. The resulting brain damage threatens to end her musical career so her and her mother seek out the protagonist, an old retired musician, to tutor her. Of particular sci-fi note is an exploration of brain implants. Yes they may repair the musician's brain damage - but at what cost? Will doing so 'alter' her in some way? It brings to mind the old conundrum of artists - it is despair and misery and DARKNESS that often motivate us to bring forth LIGHT via art. Would van Gogh have been able to paint with such beauty without the loneliness constantly eating away at him? I personally found this piece so far above and beyond every other story in this issue that it, almost, retroactively made me enjoy them less. The characterization here was just light-years above the others. Perhaps this is simply because it was longer, but in this story I actually felt like something was at stake. The relationships contained a real humanity.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kam Yung Soh

    A better than average issue saved by thoughtful stories by Jason Sanford and Vylar Kaftan, with a powerful story by Sean Monaghan about whether nanobot repairs make us less or more human. - "Biology at the End of the World" by Brenda Cooper: in a future where the Earth's ecosystems have collapsed, two UN Biological inspectors who help police various labs on Earth and in space for 'non-natural' biological presence are told by a whistle blower about a secret lab manufacturing lifeforms. What they A better than average issue saved by thoughtful stories by Jason Sanford and Vylar Kaftan, with a powerful story by Sean Monaghan about whether nanobot repairs make us less or more human. - "Biology at the End of the World" by Brenda Cooper: in a future where the Earth's ecosystems have collapsed, two UN Biological inspectors who help police various labs on Earth and in space for 'non-natural' biological presence are told by a whistle blower about a secret lab manufacturing lifeforms. What they find would lead one of them to rethink about how to save what is left of the Earth's ecosystems. - "The God Year" by Jim Grimsley: an initially hard to read story (due to its slang-like style) about the news that a god is about to descend on a village and the changes it causes to various characters; an abusive husband, his wife and an unknown crippled child with an unknown past. Even after getting used to the style, the rise in abusive violence at the end makes the story uncomfortable reading. - "Duller's Peace" by Jason Sanford: a thoughtful story about a country in the future where nanobots monitor your conscious thoughts and can kill you if the government doesn't like your thoughts. The story follows one little girl, who believes her 'bad' thoughts about the government killed her parents. Now, she has to be careful of what she thinks to keep her grandfather, a former government scientist, alive. But things come to a head when the government decides to starve them into submission in return for access to anti-nanobots developed by the grandfather. But in the end, she gets her revenge in a thoughtful way. - "Calved" by Sam J. Miller: in a future of global warming and floating cities, one father returns from a year's work carving glacier ice to find his son has become a sullen teenager. His attempts to reconnect to his son flounders on mis-communication and racial bias against their skin colour. But he only discovers the true extent of the emotional distance between them when he takes action to return a gift to his son, only to discover just how much his son has changed and why he may never be able to communicate with him again. - "Last Hunt” by Vylar Kaftan: an interesting story about a pair of Inuit hunters who come upon a crashed alien spaceship. One of them, a woman who enjoys hunting and has a spiritual past, is on her last hunt and preparing for a home life. When she rescues the alien survivor, she starts to reflect on just what she wants out of life. - "Searching for Commander Parsec" by Peter Wood: a light-hearted piece that starts with the puzzle of why an old SF radio show is still being heard today. As a mother builds up her courage to tell her son that the episodes of the show are about to end, they hear an unusual request by Commander Parser to go to a certain location. What they find there will resolve the puzzle and catapult them into new adventures with Commander Parsec. - "The Moleenstraat Music Festival" by Sean Monaghan: a fascinating story set in a future where nanobots could easily repair biological damage; if they are allowed to. This story follows an old retired musician who paints but is suffering from arthritic joints. A mother introduces her daughter who is a musical genius to him for coaching for she has suffered an accident that makes her lay idle at inopportune moments. Both could benefit from nanobot repairs but refuses for fear that the repairs would take away a part of what makes them individuals. As the story progresses we discover their ups and downs and how it affects their final decisions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sacha Valero

    Short Stories “The God Year” by Jim Grimsley Stars: 2 The writing style and language was fine, but the overall tone and pace was lethargic. Also, the story was fairly predictable and I felt nothing for any of these characters, not even the newt. Nice bit of world building though. “Duller's Peace” by Jason Sanford Stars: 5 This was a great story. After a long war the Nation controls the population through the use of motes (nanos) which a transmit your thoughts, feelings, and memories to them. If you're Short Stories “The God Year” by Jim Grimsley Stars: 2 The writing style and language was fine, but the overall tone and pace was lethargic. Also, the story was fairly predictable and I felt nothing for any of these characters, not even the newt. Nice bit of world building though. “Duller's Peace” by Jason Sanford Stars: 5 This was a great story. After a long war the Nation controls the population through the use of motes (nanos) which a transmit your thoughts, feelings, and memories to them. If you're found to not be sufficiently loyal to the Nation you'll be punished. Capping off the inevitable ending was first class world building. “Calved” by Sam J. Miller Stars: 2 Meh. An immigrant father trying to rebuild a relationship with his son. The world building is decent and you do get a sense of what it's like for an immigrant who doesn't speak the language (in this case Swedish). We know really nothing about the father's life other than he lives on the outer edges of society so the ending came off as quite a contrast to what he was attempting and it just didn't work and the author comes across as a little preachy about the environment. “Last Hunt” by Vylar Kaftan Stars: 4 Very cool story about a young Inuit sipiniq. Out on the ice they see something I initially believed to be a meteor but turns out to be a ship carrying an alien which he believes is a spirit. It's essentially a story about personal change with a great little relationship between the Inuit and the alien. Well worth the read. “Searching For Commander Parsec” by Peter Wood Stars: 4 After his parents split a Brian takes to listening to a radio show from the 1950s called Commander Parsec. Thing is, the radio station it's broadcasting from hasn't been around since the 1960s and the writer said he based the show on a real Commander Parsec and his nemesis Lord Murdock and his Army of Chaos from short wave radio he picked up. It's a cute story and worth a read. Novelettes “Biology At The End Of The World” by Brenda Cooper Stars: 5 This was a very cool and thought provoking read that was very well written. We see a future where much of Earth has been destroyed and there are special agents who monitor and test all manner of biological stuff. Anything that's been found to have its DNA altered by more than 5% is destroyed yet when an entire ecosystem has been engineered from the ground up and can rebuild those parts of the Earth that are dead, what do you do? “The Molenstraat Music Festival” by Sean Monaghan Stars: 1 I tried to finish this, but I just couldn't.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Denise Barney

    Another satisfactory issue. Sheila Williams wrote a tribute to Tanith Lee and Melanie Tem, two of my favorite writers. Robert Silverberg's editorial uncovers the story behind a quote he used for one of his stories. He knew the quote, knew if was from a Jewish source, but had no idea of where it came from. This stories in this issue dealt with introspection and soul-searching, using the guise of other worlds and futuristic technology. The science was not the focal point--the human interaction was Another satisfactory issue. Sheila Williams wrote a tribute to Tanith Lee and Melanie Tem, two of my favorite writers. Robert Silverberg's editorial uncovers the story behind a quote he used for one of his stories. He knew the quote, knew if was from a Jewish source, but had no idea of where it came from. This stories in this issue dealt with introspection and soul-searching, using the guise of other worlds and futuristic technology. The science was not the focal point--the human interaction was. "Biology at the End of the World" looks at the limitations and the promise of scientific research and humans emotional response to animals. "The God Year" was kind of reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery": not all honors are benign. "Duller's Peace" is a look at the peace brought on by conformity. "Calved" made me cry. "The Last Hunt" is really a story about coming to terms with yourself, especially as a teen (and I'm going to have to look up Vylar Kaftan and FOGcon!). "The Molenstraat Music Festival" looks at what makes a genius. There were several poems. "The Astronaut's Heart" was my favorite, using the actual physical changes of an astronaut's heart while in space as a metaphor.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Honestly, there just weren't any stories that really spoke to me in this issue. That's about all. Honestly, there just weren't any stories that really spoke to me in this issue. That's about all.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Odo

    2.5/5.0

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    "Calved," by Sam J Miller. 4 stars. Short Story. "Calved," by Sam J Miller. 4 stars. Short Story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Robert Arl

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott Klobas

  12. 5 out of 5

    George Heintzelman

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matteo Carpentieri

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

  15. 4 out of 5

    Keith

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Francis Bass

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joanne G.

    "Duller's Peace" by Jason Sanford "Duller's Peace" by Jason Sanford

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael Frasca

  20. 4 out of 5

    OTIS

  21. 5 out of 5

    Donald

  22. 5 out of 5

    Craig

  23. 4 out of 5

    San

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kaiju Reviews

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tom Godkin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tad Kilgore

  27. 4 out of 5

    Taskel

  28. 5 out of 5

    Oliver

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Sipila

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karl Forlev

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