Asimov's Science Fiction April - May
The April/May 2005 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is a bit disappointing for a double issue. The only exceptional story is "Shadow Twin" by Gardner Dozois, George R.R. Martin and Daniel Abraham. On the planet Sao Paulo, Ramon Espejo is off in the wilderness looking for riches. He accidentally uncovers a nest of aliens. They render him unconscious and when he revives give him a very peculiar task. This is a great story but it was published last year by SCIFICTION and is still available free online at www.scifi.com. There is a 2004 copyright date on the story and is approximately 40 pages of the issue that you can get for free elsewhere.
Fortunately, there are some very good original stories in this issue.
"Solidarity" by Walter Jon Williams is a worthy sequel to his "Margaux" in the May 2003 issue. In it, Sula must employ devious means to gain allies in her battle against the alien invaders, the Naxids. "Dark of the Sun" by William Barton is a follow-up to his previous story, "Moments of Inertia" in April/May 2004 issue. Again, four people are coping with the extinction of the Sun. "In Dallas: An Essay" by Robert Reed, a man looks back at his life 20 years ago and a friend he calls Dallas who comes up with an idea about a 'world envelope' that manipulates things for the benefit of mankind. Just the kind of strange but wonderful story we always get from Robert Reed. In another very good story, "Mason's Rats" by Neal Asher, a man has a serious rodent problem. "La Gran Muerte" by Liz Williams is a beautiful little story which echoes the myth of Persephone and the choice she makes. Lastly, "Down Memory Lane" by Mike Resnick is a sad tale of a man dealing with his wife's dementia. The only problem I have is I found it a bit predictable.
There are four other stories that are not as good. "California King" by Michael J. Jasper & Greg van Eekhout is a tedious little story about a man who can manipulate events with his tattoos. Skip it. "Bean There" by Jack Skillingstead is an OK tale about how aliens bring about an unusual kind of evolution on Earth. In "Lover of Statues" by Ian Watson, an alien lives up to that description. In the last of the short stories, "They Will Raise You in a Box" by Wil McCarthy, we get an idea about problems with such a practice.
This issue gets a qualified endorsement. Almost half the issue is either available elsewhere or not worth reading. Buy it at your own risk.