Fantasy & Science Fiction

May 2005

Cover image

Editor: Gordon van Gelder
Issue: Volume 108, No. 5
ISSN: 1095-8258
Pages: 162

After the excellence of last issue, this issue unfortunately drops back to a collection of okay stories, near misses, and things not quite to my taste. Not a bad issue, not a great issue. The Elizabeth Hand and Charles de Lint book columns were better than the average for F&SF, but still not as good as they could be.

"The Great Caruso" by Steven Popkes: A heart-warming nanotech story told from an emotional rather than scientific perspective. Rather than enemies or servants, nanotech here is portrayed as a strange symbiote, one that is struggling to understand humans even as we are struggling to understand it. I don't think the science fits this concept, but the story ended up being surprisingly sweet and enjoyable. (7)

"The Golems of Detroit" by Alex Irvine: More a one-joke story than anything else, it follows a factory worker in a factory manufacturing golems to fight Germany during World War II. Most of the amusement derives from the idea of golems being manufactured on an assembly line like tanks, but beyond that, there's not really much here. (5)

"Born-Again" by K.D. Wentworth: I'm not sure what it would be like to be Jesus's sister, but having a cloned Jesus as your kid brother is a pain in the neck. Particularly when the Jesuses start getting together and running in packs. A great humorous concept, handled reasonably well with an okay point about personal identity and nature versus nurture at the end. Not bad. (6)

"The Imago Sequence" by Laird Barron: I'm afraid I just don't like Laird Barron's style and thematic material. This novella gets off to a better start than the last short story of his that I read, building an interesting strong-arm character and a plot about three mysterious photographs. I enjoyed some of the investigative build-up mixed with eerie and disturbing vibes from the photographs. Unfortunately, the end of the story falls into more traditional unexplained horror territory and closes with a self-referential trap ending that I found profoundly unsatisfying. Long on creepy and short on explanations, this just wasn't my cup of tea. (4)

"The New Deity" by Robert Reed: I'm not sure if this story would mean anything to someone who didn't follow sports politics and the bizarre ritual of hiring new head coaches (particularly for college teams), but for those who are disgusted by the fawning levelled at abusive personalities like Bobby Knight, this is an amusing send-up of the whole process. If we handled deities the way that we handle college sports coaches, I can believe that the world would be much like this. Short, with a core idea that barely supports that length, I think sports fans will smile wryly at this one. (6)

"I.D.I.D." by Robert Thurston: Thurston had me hooked on this story, both on the mysterious stranded aliens of the opening scenes and the far-different world of strange political correctness and identity politics that the story switches to. However, both the hooks petered out indecisively, leaving a novelette that sets a scene and then fails to tell a story in it. Disappointing. (5)

Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed: 2005-08-14

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