Asimov's Science Fiction

March 2005

Cover image

Editor: Sheila Williams
Issue: Volume 29, No. 3
ISSN: 1065-2698
Pages: 144

Well, Asimov's wasn't as impressive this time around. Paul di Filippo's book column was better than the book column last month and Silverberg's column is still enjoyable, but the stories weren't as good. Most of them left me flat or seemed rather pointless (but were at least mostly short — I prefer issues with lots of short stories than ones with several novelettes). I'm still enjoying the poetry more than I expected to.

"The Fraud" by Esther M. Friesner: I like Friesner's humorous stories more. The concept is protecting science against belief in magic by suppressing or disbelieving evidence of magic, which could have been an interesting inversion, but it ends up just dragging. (4)

"The Card" by Gene Wolfe: A story about alternate universes and knowing a bit too much. This idea has been done before, most notably by Larry Niven. I found Wolfe's take on it more believable than Niven's, and with a stronger dark twist, but it's still not an idea that works for me. (5)

"Tk'tk'tk" by David D. Levine: An odd story about product sales and clashes of culture, consisting mostly of a string of horrible things happening to a salesman wrapped up in an ending that didn't make psychological sense to me. Lots of visceral frustration without an ending to make the discomfort worth it. (4)

"The Wave-Function Collapse" by Steven Utley: A nice concept short about quantum mechanics, parallel universes, and the sort of irrational hope that might come out of routine applications of those ideas. There's no good ending for this story, but I liked the idea. (6)

"The Dodo Factory" by Lori Selke: There's no unique concept here, just a fairly straightforward bit of espionage in a background that owes a great deal to Jurassic Park. It's nicely done for what it is, though, and I did like the sysadmin. Okay, if not memorable. (6)

"The Devil You Don't" by Matthew Hughes: A great concept short (only three pages) tackling the old plot about the perils of changing history from a rather unexpected direction. Possibly the best story of this issue. (7)

"Organs R Us" by R. Neube: Just a fairly straightforward story about a travelling organ buyer in a world after economic collapse. The idea isn't particularly new and the story tries to add a touch of detective work, or maybe a touch of action, and ends up just being an exposition dump with an unsatisfying ending. (5)

"Bright Red Star" by Bud Sparhawk: I don't understand the point of writing this story. It's unremittingly dark, in one of those hyper-aggressive "evil aliens who won't communicate" war worlds, with a generic idea and not even a memorable ending. Bleh. (3)

"Green Shift" by Mary Rosenblum: This is the strongest plot-driven story of this issue, set in a future world dominated by Asian families and family corporations and exploring high-tech assassins and life on an orbital. I wouldn't say any of the world-building here is spectacularly original, but it's a good mix that I'd enjoy reading more about and the plot worked for me. (7)

Rating: 5 out of 10

Reviewed: 2005-03-27

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