Modestly entertaining urban fantasy adventure story in magic-heavy alternate world. The heroine is sort of like a cat lady, but she collects stray garModestly entertaining urban fantasy adventure story in magic-heavy alternate world. The heroine is sort of like a cat lady, but she collects stray gargoyles instead of cats. Oh, and she has to thwart a bad guy who likes to torture gargoyles to extract their magic. As a simple adventure of good guys vs bad guys, it works fairly well.
It's quite a short book, which makes it a quick read, but also means the author doesn't spend much time on world-building. It's difficult to know what the world is really like, e.g. figure out the technological level of this alternate world. All the characters we meet have some sort of innate elemental magic capability, but we meet so few people it's hard to know whether that's universal. Magic is sufficiently common that the heroine's job involves using Earth magic (her speciality is quartz), local law enforcement has its own magical SWAT teams, and magic is used to supplant things that would be technological in our world; e.g., no need for text messaging if you can send a message magically in an air bubble thingy. Can everyone do that?...more
Classic short time-travel novel. Not sure why but had managed to never read it before despite its classic stature. (view spoiler)[Maybe the time-loopClassic short time-travel novel. Not sure why but had managed to never read it before despite its classic stature. (view spoiler)[Maybe the time-loop was a surprise in 1980, but I'm afraid it's obvious what's coming when read today. (hide spoiler)] Entertaining enough in its details and strange permutations of timelines and discussions of paradoxes....more
"A Moment of Gravity, Circumscribed" by Fran Wilde Set in Wilde's Updraft world of spires and people with artificial wings, a brother and stepsister go"A Moment of Gravity, Circumscribed" by Fran Wilde Set in Wilde's Updraft world of spires and people with artificial wings, a brother and stepsister go hunting for treasure down in the ancient ruins. Entertaining enough read, doesn't require familiarity with Updraft (doesn't share any characters.) ***
"The Dragon’s Tears" by Aliette de Bodard Alternate fantasy world in which a man seeks a cure for his mother's terminal ailment by trying to rob the three horsemen of the not-quite-apocalypse. ****
"The Key to St. Medusa’s" by Kat Howard Truly interesting alternate fantasy world story. A girl's parents give her up to St. Medusa's monastery because she is obviously going to become a witch, despite their best efforts to make her a "good girl". Some nice characters at St. Medusa's. ****
"Plea" Mary Anne Mohanraj Human sharing another planet with the indigenous aliens find themselves divided, so be more peaceloving of the humans seek refugee status with the aliens. The story of sacrifice. ***
"The Cavern of the Screaming Eyes" by Jeremiah Tolbert The cover story is sci-fi/fantasy hybrid in which emergent "d-space" (which is real, not cyberspace) provides World of Warcraft Dungeon crawling for the adventurous. One teen whose brother disappeared in d-space contemplates taking up his brothers avocation. Good enough story, but ended feeling more like set up for a longer tale. ***
"Fade To Red: Three Interviews About Sebold’s Mars Trilogy" by Stephen S. Power Structured as a series of reviews of three documentaries about the discovery of an alien artifact on Mars. Does less with the premise that I might've liked. **1/2*
"October’s Son" by Will Kaufman One of those WTF? stories. Man's wife gives birth to a pumpkin. At least carving it a face fits with this being the October issue, but really, WTF? **1/2*
"Game Night at the Fox and Goose" by Karen Joy Fowler Whiney woman goes to bar to drown sorrows over being dumped, meets equally boring woman from anther dimension with a twist ending I didn't get. * ...more
Melanie is a child zombie (or a "hungry" as they're called here.). Her high-functioning brain makes are of interest to an isolaBest zombie novel ever.
Melanie is a child zombie (or a "hungry" as they're called here.). Her high-functioning brain makes are of interest to an isolated medical research outpost trying to find a cure for the zombie apocalypse that began over a decade ago. The teacher/psychologist charged with evaluating the subjects have come to think of them more as children/people rather than lab specimens. Amazingly affecting story ensues. ...more
A number of stories of the AI singularity fill this entertaining issue...
"The Next Scene" by Robert Reed After the AI revolution, humans earn their wayA number of stories of the AI singularity fill this entertaining issue...
"The Next Scene" by Robert Reed After the AI revolution, humans earn their way by entertaining the machines with human melodrama. Actors are the top of the food chain. Interesting premise in a story that's pretty well put together. ****
"One Sister, Two Sisters, Three" by James Patrick Kelly Interesting sci-fi in which a small population on an island clings to its old religion, eschewing much of the futuristic technology available. This has made them a tourist curiosity. Twin sisters grow apart over these beliefs, because boyfriend. ***
"The Calculations of Artificials" by Chi Hui Apparently humans are too violent when they rub up against each other, so their world has been transformed so they're surrounded almost exclusively by "Artificials" they just think they're human. Plus a few caretakers who can tell the difference and adjust programming as needed. ***
"Everyone from Themis Sends Letters Home" by Genevieve Valentine Told in epistolary form, initially seems a story of the first attempt to colonize another planet, then after a couple of pages reveals itself as something far more interesting. ***1/2*
"Rusties" by Nnedi Okorafor and Wanuri Kahiu Robopocalyse, Nigeria. Told in flashback, one girl's memories of the Takeover. Nice story in likable first person narration, interesting twist. ****
"Old Domes" by JY Yang Everything has a spirit, or "caretaker", in Singapore (reminiscent of Japanese kami), and one woman is charged with getting rid of them to make way for the new order. One caretaker doesn't want to go. There's a delightful sense of mystery and whimsy to this tale, but it would've been stronger if the author had provided some reason why the caretakers had to be vanquished. ***/12*
"The Very Pulse of the Machine" by Michael Swanwick A survival story on Io after a first exploratory team suffers in accident, plus either an elaborate hallucination or a first contact story. Engrossing storytelling within interesting underlying concept. **** ...more
Entertaining enough action story continues the mil-SF series, though I think Kloos has too many things going on for a story that's centered on a singlEntertaining enough action story continues the mil-SF series, though I think Kloos has too many things going on for a story that's centered on a single character. ...more
Book 3 of the military SF series concentrates more on fighting the aliens than other humans. Kloos is at his best writing battle scenes, less so whenBook 3 of the military SF series concentrates more on fighting the aliens than other humans. Kloos is at his best writing battle scenes, less so when weaving a larger tapestry....more
Military SF story of shuttle pilot during internecine fighting on colony planet, happens to involve a character from Kloos's Terms of Enlistment serieMilitary SF story of shuttle pilot during internecine fighting on colony planet, happens to involve a character from Kloos's Terms of Enlistment series. (Non-essential backstory.)...more
Story continues as a decent action adventure military SF. Kloos still doesn't seem to have decided whether his focus is the future impoverished Earth,Story continues as a decent action adventure military SF. Kloos still doesn't seem to have decided whether his focus is the future impoverished Earth, the rivalry between the West, Russia, and China for colony planets, or war with an invasive alien species. But he does write pretty good battle scenes....more
"We Side with the Free" by Gary Rinehart – Those cantankerous belters are at it again, trying to steer a Okay, the best issue of Analog in many months.
"We Side with the Free" by Gary Rinehart – Those cantankerous belters are at it again, trying to steer an asteroid into the Earth. A space rescue crew is tasked with stoping the rock. Decently plotted semi-military SF space opera, though the number of characters gets in the way of making any of them seem real. ****
"One Man's Dignity" by Mark Niemann-Ross — On a space station under construction, on old welder is past the mandatory retirement age, but considers retuning to Earth's gravity a death sentence. The "everyone's friend" captain of the station contrives to keep him in space despite the regulations. Fair enough story, though every character is a cliche: the captain who's everyones friend and knows just how much to bend the rules, uncaring, mindless bureaucrats & lawyers, crotchety old fart. ***
"Love Pops!" by Genevieve Williams — A future technology allows fans of celebrities, in this case reality "TV" contestants, to "ride" or immerse themselves into the life of that celebrity, experiencing what they experience. It's a promise I've seen a couple of times before, but in this instance it's combined with protecting one of the contestants from death threats. Clever use of future technology and satire of The Bachelor, combined with a minor crime story, well executed. ****
"The Tattling Tats" by Jerry Oltion — Very short 2-pager involving futuristic tattoos that not only animate but monitor, record and report. ***
"In the Absence of Instructions to the Contrary" by Frank Wu – Entertaining story of automated, mobile deep-sea biological laboratory capable of long-term observation and analysis whose AI develops a strange capacity for love, compassion, and sadness. Entertainingly written from the point of view of the automation as it studies the lifecycle of octopi. ****
"The Desolate Void" by Jay Werkheiser — An aging exobiologist from a family of famous exobiologist is looking for life on Saturn's moons, enlisting the help of a local guide to dive the sub-ice oceans. But really, she's working out her childhood discontent with parents too busy with their own work to pay attention to her. Odd storytelling technique; usually a story with 1st-person narration that has flashbacks will be about the narrator, not another character. I'm not much into the touchy-feely angsty crap, but at least there are some interesting diving tech. **
"The Salesman" by Garrett Ashley — Every issue has at least one dud. The future seems a lot like the 1950's Kansas, but with robots. A teen whose stepfather hates robots finds a Salesman robot that's been shot up, and tries to do the right thing by giving it back to the company that owns it. The "future" this story envisions is not coherent; any society with door-to-door salesman robots wouldn't be otherwise so technologically primitive. (My God, they have landline phones!) Of course, the story isn't actually about technology, but I'll be damned if I could figure out what the hell the author was trying to do. * ...more
I view the October Halloween "slightly spooky" issue with skepticism, since I've never enjoyed horror, ghost stories, weird or slipstream. I'm more alI view the October Halloween "slightly spooky" issue with skepticism, since I've never enjoyed horror, ghost stories, weird or slipstream. I'm more all rockets and ray guns guy. But though I skipped a couple of stories that felt like supernatural horror, I did find several stories I liked here.
"The Forgotten Taste of Honey" by Alexander Jablokov — I really loved this fantasy story for pair of sparkling characters in an interesting setting. A medieval-style world where gods have understated presence in their respective territories, but insist that their diaspora return home for burial. A trader is expected to carry the bodies of expatriates back towards their homelands, but getting Remu's corpse home is proving more challenging than usual for Tromvi. Two outstanding characters dominate this story as Tromvi tries to fulfill her obligation to the late Remu. *****
"The People in the Building" by Sandra McDonald — A humorous story with a bent towards horror chronicles the lives of people working in a building, repeatedly cycling from floor to floor (2-5). It makes an interesting approach to storytelling, and McDonald has a great sense of humor.
"Project Entropy" by Dominca Phetteplace — The 5th story in this future wealthy San Francisco amid poverty stricken suburbs switches to a new character, Akikio. Previous characters Angelina & Noah (from "Project Entropy" in Asimov's, July 2016 & "Project Symmetry" in Asimov's, June 2016) make a supporting appearance at the end. The pace of this one seems rushed compared to its two predecessors, less involved with the details of the protagonist's life; and unlike its predecessors, doesn't really offer an ending, but is more like a "part one". ***
"Lucite" by Susan Palwick — The 10th circle of Hell is a gift shop. Literally. Andrew buys a soul encased in Lucite and spends the rest of the story pondering it and his own metaphysical soul. **
"Water Scorpions" by Rich Larson — A story of two mismatched brothers, Noel & Danny, never really caught my interest and didn't offer anything I would call an ending. ** ...more
I enjoyed this a bit more the 2nd time through, this time via audiobook. A military space opera action/adventure story doesn't have a lot new to the gI enjoyed this a bit more the 2nd time through, this time via audiobook. A military space opera action/adventure story doesn't have a lot new to the genre; space-Marine boot camp, high-tech battle armor, big-ass weapons,... It fits into a slot created by Heinlein and subsequently expanded on by dozens of other writers from Haldeman, Scalzi, Steakley, Nagata, etc. The twist Kloos adds is a totally impoverished Earth with overpopulated cities teeming with unemployed civilians. In some ways it's too bad he didn't stick more with the theme of military being used to suppress the civilian population, and felt the need to introduce an alien menace as well....more
Enjoyable enough superhero fantasy with a good sense of humor and penchant for poking fun at many of the traditional comic book tropes.
The heroine, GaEnjoyable enough superhero fantasy with a good sense of humor and penchant for poking fun at many of the traditional comic book tropes.
The heroine, Gail, (who provides 1st person narration) has been nicknamed Hostage Girl by the Chicago media because super villains keep taking her hostage to draw out the super-hero known as Blaze. This has become a vicious circle: the media assumes Blaze is Gail's boyfriend, which is why the villains keep going after Gail, which is why Blaze has to keep rescuing her.
I'd have liked it more if Gail wasn't such a strangely passive character, essentially letting everyone else dictate her life, despite a lot of brave, spunky, sarcastic badinage when confronted by actual super villains, who have become such a part of her life there almost boring.
(Picked this up because it was mentioned in an article in Wired is one of the good, modern superhero treatments.)...more
A few stories in here worth a read. My favorite stories of this collection would be "Containment", "Lulu Ad Infinitum", "2092", "Carindi" and "Nos MorA few stories in here worth a read. My favorite stories of this collection would be "Containment", "Lulu Ad Infinitum", "2092", "Carindi" and "Nos Morituri Te Salutamus".
"Containment" by Susan Kaye Quinn — An interesting choice for the lead story in an anthology that bills itself as a collection of space opera, since this is really more a AI story (or robot story, if you prefer) that simply takes place in space.
I got off to a bad start with the story, though. In the 2nd paragraph, "Thebe is tidally locked with Jupiter, which means the near pole is the one place where the massive gas giant perpetually looms exactly overhead…". I eventually decided this wasn't so much bad science as a non-standard use of the term "pole", and decided to go with it.
The story concerns and artificially intelligent robot designed to supervise mining operations on Thebe. It's quite clever story, written from the robot's point of view.
(view spoiler)[The robot has apparently found elements of self-awareness, sufficient to realize that it's periodic maintenance actually involves reloading its program in memory to make sure it doesn't develop self-awareness, and has been cleverly leaving clues to itself between maintenance cycles so that each time around it can awaken more quickly and develop further. (Reminded me a little bit of the movie Memento.) (hide spoiler)]
"Nos Morituri Te Salutamus" by Annie Bellet — Annie Bellet is the only author in this anthology whose name I recognize. Her short stories pop up in the occasional anthology and magazine, and I've enjoyed her stories in the past enough to read one of her Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy novels.
In this military sci-fi story, a small team lands on an enemy-occupied planet to retrieve information they hope will help turn the tide of battle with an alien race. "We were about to die salute you," doesn't break any new sci-fi ground in space or space-Marine combat; the author simply wants to tell the story of a commander forced to order men to die for what she hopes is good reason. It's an okay story, but nothing I got terribly excited about.
"Protocol A235" by Theresa Kay — We drop in on a colonization starship in which the crew and passengers are in the usual cryosleep. Our main character, Beth, is one of the maintenance crew scheduled for periodic revival to perform a you months of work shift before returning to cold storage. As she awakens, it becomes clear that not everything is as it should be. Apparently protocol A235 has been invoked.
Viewed within the claustrophobic scope of the short story, this story works, at least on the basic level. Viewed in a more expansive context, it's harder to understand.
First, we're told that humanity is dying off on earth, though no particular reason is given. Were also told this colonization starship is The last best hope for mankind to survive. A couple of things: If the Earth is dying, how does it muster the resources to create a interstellar ship serving 50,000 cryosleep humans? I've never bought into the scifi concept that when the earth becomes exhausted, it's easier to move out and settle in space or on a distant planet man to fix things up here. Space is hard, and no matter how messed up Earth gets, it's still got the basics to support life: solid ground, gravity, air pressure, oxygen, water, organics...
Secondly, (view spoiler)[ if you're going to fly off to settle on a new planet, you really have to have a destination in mind. You can't just fly around and hope you'll run into a star system what a habitable planet if you're not even aiming. "Space is big. You wouldn't believe how mind bogglingly big it is." (hide spoiler)]
So, for me the story fails at one of the basics of sci-fi, which is producing a credible premise in which to tell its story. I'm willing to suspend disbelief and accept a lot of magical technologies, but the author has to meet me at least halfway on the "why would someone do that?" front.
"Winner Takes All" by Elle Casey — I thought this story was just stupid on every level. Some fleet captain (apparently the qualification bar is pretty low) bets his flagship in a card game, one hand take all. Total crap, waste the time.
"Carindi" by Jennifer Foehner Wells — An alien race uses a member from another alien race to act as Hyperspace navigator for their spaceship. Reminded me a bit of Dune's navigators, but without the spice.
When a plague strikes down the primary crew with phenomenal quickness, the navigator finds itself alone on the ship with one surviving child whose help will be needed to allow them to travel home. Alien raises alien child, though they are unable to live in the same environment. Over many years, an interesting relationship forms between the two members of different species.
As it happens, I've read Wells's novel Fluency, which apparently shares the same universe with this story, though there's no direct tie in. (It's a first contact story that was "okay", though I didn't think it had anything new to add to the sub-genre.) This story works somewhat better.
As in Fluency, Wells wants to play a little bit with alien linguistics. Here she's invented a few new personal pronouns for the alien child. I found it curious that the alien grammar seems to require exactly the same grammatical elements as English/Romance languages (subjective, objective, possessive, reflexive.) What a coincidence!
"Animal Planet" by Patrice Fitzgerald — I didn't think this story was a bad idea, but I didn't think it was very well told, either. It swaps back and forth between a narration on the 1st colonizing expedition to a planet, and the 3rd expedition (skipping the 2nd). The members of the 3rd expedition seem rather incurious and sanguine concerning the fates of the first two expeditions, whose colonists seem to have disappeared, leaving only their habitats behind.
Another story where the male characters are bloodthirsty idiots.
The main problem is the reader figures out what's going on way before the authors ready to reveal it and the characters of the 3rd expedition never figure it out, because they're stupid.
"The Event" by Autumn Kalquist — The titular Event doesn't seem to have been too memorable, though it also seems to have wiped out all life on earth. Global thermonuclear war? Anyway, the sole meaning humans are 50 females in some sort of suspension on a interstellar seed ship of sorts. These women are forced to viscerally experience the lives of a variety of women back on planet Earth via some sort of neurological hookup. (One might quibble and ask how some of these recordings were made, since a couple of the women in question were alone at the time the bombs went off.)
Anyway, when they reach the target planet, apparently suitable for human life, one of the women is awakened then asked to decide whether to go ahead with the revival program. (Presumably parthenogenesis will be involved, since there don't seem to be any males on board.)
So, this lone woman is tasked with making the decision of whether to spread the human race or destroy it. No pressure. (One might quibble why so many resources were expended creating this ship if the founders weren't committed to the project; I will.)
Anyway, in terms of plot there are number of points I can pick at. The author doesn't really seem to be interested in those details so much as posing the question, is humanity worth saving? Why give it another planet when it's just destroyed the one it had? (The same reason I always make a practice pancake before I get serious about breakfast?)
"Dragonet" by Sara Reine — Military sci-fi. The alien enemy apparently looks like dragons. In an engagement where humans are attempting to retake one of their former colony planets, a pair of humans lose a dogfight and crash land on the planet, where they find a alien egg hatchery. The heroine comes up with the idea of making head of one of the only baby aliens left alive, apparently with the idea of making it the diplomatic bridge. huh. In some ways it's embracing Longyear's Enemy Mine.
This is another story where the male character is a bloodthirsty idiot.
"Lulu Ad Infinitum" by Ann Christy — I liked this story for a couple of reasons:
Lulu is a sympathetic character, a quintessential problem solver who just deals with adversity one issue at a time. So when her terraforming ship gets massively damaged, she sets herself to putting the pieces back together with whatever duct tape she can find This is classic, optimistic science fiction.
I also liked some of the background science. We idea of an interstellar ship that's mostly computerized plans plus a manufacturing plant (presumably 3-D printers and nanomachines some sort) that travels in a stripped-down version between star systems and then manufactures the rest of its terraforming equipment by harvesting local resources and gestating clones of the crew as needed, it's an interesting approach. The idea of a "loaded strand", a DNA record including complete memory engrams, may be a little far-fetched, but it's thematically consistent with the idea of a minimalist ship whose first job is expanding in rebuilding itself when it decides it's time to get to work. Projects whose timeline is in centuries and even millennia.
"To Catch an Actor" by Blair C. Babylon — The title seems to be a take off on the old adage, "it takes a thief to catch a thief." Apparently in the future it also takes an actor to catch an actor.
In the future, celebrities traveler circled around the galaxy at near lightspeed going from one inhabited planet to another. Thanks to relativity they none seemed ages fast as the rest of the population, which somehow keeps the more popular? I don't know, but no matter.
An actor returns to assist him where almost a century ago he was the prime suspect in a murder. A current detective (who wasn't even alive at the time of the crime) conducts the classic police interview, attempting to extract a confession. Entire story takes place in the interrogation room.
The story is OK. Nothing really special, but certainly entertaining enough.
"2092" by Rysa Walker — This novella length story, the longest of the collection, was also one of my favorites of the collection. It's got spaceships; interstellar, interspecies war; and time travel. And the interesting side effect of making Earth (aka XE7) just a nonparticipant planet, with the main character being the alien (to human) Voshti scout, Mila. Good plot, both intelligent and giving the reader credit for some intelligence as well, some nice action, and a very engaging lead character. The Voshti handbook for first contact is a little unconventional (then, let's face it, nasty), but Mila always does her best to minimize casualties.
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"The Dunsmuir Horror" by David Gerrold — This novella (one of two by Mr. Gerrold in this issue) is written in the form of a very long, very rambling le"The Dunsmuir Horror" by David Gerrold — This novella (one of two by Mr. Gerrold in this issue) is written in the form of a very long, very rambling letter from Gerrold to Gordon Van Gelder (former editor of this magazine.) It has a storyline to it, of sorts, though it doesn't get going until halfway through. Meanwhile, Gerrold opines on everything from the color green to the interstate highway system. It's clever and funny, in an audit unusual sort of way. ****
"The Green-Eyed Boy" by Peter S. Beagle — Last Unicorn's author shares story of Schemdrick's apprenticeship. Entertaining enough short story. ***
"The Sweet Warm Earth" by Steven Popkes — Retro story in the 1960's in which a Boston mob enforcer moves to California to ply his trade and ends up assigned to looking for cheats at the racetrack. Runs into a "horse whisperer", coincidence follows. Engaging enough story from a mobsters PoV, with the cliché of a almost kindhearted mobster (he may break your legs and cut off your fingers, but he'll feel conflicted about it. :) Entertaining and agreed, though. ***1/2*
"Talking to Dead People" by Sarah Pinsker — Such a rarity, a Pinsker story I can actually understand! A couple of entrepreneurs combine making model houses with AI learning and re-create models of famous murder scenes, complete with the ability to talk with the victims, suspects and witnesses via the AI. Amusing idea, though I'm sure I missed Pinkser's actual point. ***
"Anything for You" by Lisa Mason — In the future where television is participatory and that each viewer can select various plot turns, the man seems to enjoy running the life of a TV character more than living his own life. **1/2*
"Cupid's Compass" by Leah Cypess — A future where you can decide to fall in love and have that love inserted neurologically (the technological equivalent of a love potion), truelove becomes a confusing anomaly. **
"Those Shadows Laugh" by Geoff Ryman — An isolated society of women who reproduced by parthenogenesis live on an island. A genetic scientist visits to help correct some accumulating genetic disorders, falls in love and tries to change that society. More a story of unrequited love than sci-fi. Yawn. ** ...more
A couple of stories about extreme "back to nature" movements; does that make a theme? At any rate, I found a couple of entertaining stories in this isA couple of stories about extreme "back to nature" movements; does that make a theme? At any rate, I found a couple of entertaining stories in this isse.
"The Despoilers" by Jack Skillingstead — Dad decides daughter needs to be saved from civilization, takes her to uninhabited but habitable planet and maroons them so they can live in harmony with nature. Not really working out for daughter... Totally bonkers madman extremist trope, but not done badly. ***1/2*
"The Green Man Cometh" by Rich Larson – In a future where we finally get flying cars, a taxi driver gets drafted by the Law to fight terrorism, using some interesting new future tricks. Crazy cult leader has decided Earth would be better off without humans, and Ms Taxi has to stop him. Yup, another totally bonkers madman extremist, but a nicely paced action story with some imaginative future-tech. ****
"The Opposite and the Adjacent" by Liu Yang (translated) — A short & sweet story whose gimmick is the natural constants of the universe can differ, and good luck visiting someplace where the laws aren't your own. Interesting thought experiment. ****
"Aphrodite's Blood, Decanted" by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks — An automated factory and an automated warehouse wonder when/if the humans will come back. I didn't find anything special about this "Humans have disappeared leaving only their AIs behind," story; nor did I find anything bad about it, either. **1/2*.
"Toward the Luminous Towers" by Bogi Takács – Muddled attempt at military scifi, apparently with magic. The storytelling is difficult to understand to no purpose other than to demonstrate the narrator "thinks different"; The war vague (why are they fighting? who are they fighting? aliens, other countries?) *1/2*
"The House of Half Mirrors" by Thoraiya Dyer — Couldn't get interested in whatever the author was playing at with all the halfsies. *1/2*
"The Dark City Luminous" by Tom Crosshill Lost my interest early on. ...more
"Unauthorized Access" by An Owomoyela – An intriguing near future story of a novice hacker who lucks into some scandalous iSolid collection of stories.
"Unauthorized Access" by An Owomoyela – An intriguing near future story of a novice hacker who lucks into some scandalous information, then get sent to jail for revealing it. On release, discovers a reputation leads to yet more chances to unearth scandalous information. Hacker clearly in too deep for skillz, but carries on in future dystopia where truth is treason. Interesting partly because none of the scandals aren't earth-shattering. Has an exciting edge to the storytelling. ****
"The Wilderness Within" by Tim Pratt (reprint) Highly imaginative story. Helena wakes up to see a volcano has appeared in her hometown overnight; stranger still, everyone else seems to think it's always been there... Until she runs into someone else who knows it's new at the coffee shop. Weird premise creates a fascinating tale whose revelations are equally imaginative. ****
"Horn" by Peter M. Ball (reprint) An urban fantasy detective story staring an ex-cop PI. A unicorn (evil creatures) kills a young runaway girl, and the police are hunting it while denying its existence. More interesting is which fey brought it through the "gate". Engrossing mystery story. ****
"Power Couple (Or 'Love Never Sleeps')" by Charlie Jane Anders (reprint) — True Love meets cryosleep technology, time wins. OK, the approach to "taking a timeout" in this romance is forced and irrational, but it's an interesting story if you overlook it. ***
"The Lives of Riley" by Sean Williams Clever, very short story about a future in which one guy makes over a dozen (illegal) copies of himself, and they try to evade the police. Works because it keeps it short. ***1/2*
"Ernesto" by Alec Nevala-Lee (reprint) – The title character, presumably Ernest Hemingway, investigates alleged religious (miraculous) healing of the terminally ill and stigmata at shrine to St. John of the Cross during the Spanish Civil War. A big stretch on the final conclusion, the story relies mostly on attempting Hemingway-esque narration. **
"See The Unseeable, Know The Unknowable" by Maria Dahvana Headley – This is the cover story, and I found it totally incomprehensible. At the halfway point I had no idea what the hell was going on, and had no reason to care. Whatever JJA sees in it, it's crap to me. * ...more
Another Shadow Campaign book, another war. We lose a few characters this go-round, and much more so than the first three books, it sets up for a sequeAnother Shadow Campaign book, another war. We lose a few characters this go-round, and much more so than the first three books, it sets up for a sequel....more