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Asimovís Science Fiction - December 2013 - Vol. 37 No. 12 - (Whole Number 454)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Alexandra Manukyan for
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 24 September 2013

Links: Asimov's Science Fiction / How to Subscribe / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The December 2013 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Henry Lien, William Preston, Ian R. MacLeod, Jay O'Connell, Timons Esaias, Gregory Norman Brossert, R. Neube, and Nancy Kress along with the usual poetry and columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction December 2013 issue is here and it's a pretty good one.

The fiction begins with "Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters" by Henry Lien. -+- Our narrator is a young woman named Suki Jiang, writing an essay on what she has learned at Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters. Her parents have sent her there as punishment because, as she amply demonstrates, she is a spoiled rich girl. The nuns at Pearl Colony go in for harsh treatment, beginning with the cutting of her hair. Suki resists but the nuns are helped by another girl that has been sent to the Colony, Doi Liang, who had been a child star athlete--Baby Swan Doi "the youngest person ever to win first place at the Season of Glimmers Pageant of Lanterns Wu-Liu Invitational". Suki plots to bring her down so that she will be denied entrance to the Pearl Opera Academy to complete her Wu-Liu (some kind of martial art) training. Since much of the physical training the girls are subjected to involves skating on pearl, I would guess this is taking place in some kind of future. Nevertheless, Lien tells us a good story.

"Dignity" by Jay O'Connell -+- In a near future in which poor people are considered hopeless and not worth bothering with, Melissa has taken in an orphan girl named Lena. Her father has found out about it and orders her to give her up. Melissa finds another way, but is this a good thing? Chilling little look at a possible future.

"The Fitter" by Timons Esaias -+- Miss Loreena Douglas, who has recently taken over the running of her niece's shop, Randi's Bustique Boutique, opens this story with the xenophobic statement, "I don't really approve of people from other planets." This is directed to the very alien Thaliamajoran, Mr. Thrormorton, described as resembling "a seven-foot-tall sea anemone wearing bits and pieces of rococo knight's armor from the Late Middle Ages" who has applied to become a salesperson at her shop. Oddly enough, during the interview, he shows a knack for charming customers and is hired. He is an instant success and the shop starts getting more customers because of him. The story is hilariously told and a delight.

"Vox ex Machina" by William Preston -+- Karen is an unusually short flight attendant who finds a curious package in an airplane's overhead compartment after a flight. It contains an obviously fake head and, for some reason, takes it home. We learn her boyfriend, Chris, walked out on her and she hasn't much of a life. She eventually finds out that the head was made by two guys who modeled it after a deceased science fiction writer. She starts having pointless conversations with it. Not much more happens and this story just bored me.

"Bloom" by Gregory Norman Brossert -+- Ki, Ben, and Andrea are out at night on a planet called Ardun when they find themselves in the middle of an alien life form that the people of Earth have dubbed the Bloom. If they move, they will die, their bodies stripped down by the Bloom. While they await rescue, we learn about the Bloom, Interesting speculation and invention.

"Grainers" by R. Neube -+- In a future in which Earth nuked itself and refugees called grainers travel around in ships that aliens gave to them, life is not easy for the grainers. Our story is told from the point of view of one of them, working a scam to take advantage of the local military for reasons that become clear at the end of the story. Our other point-of-view character is one of those military with an agenda of her own. Nicely done with the contrast of characters.

"Frog Watch" by Nancy Kress -+- After her husband Jason, a policeman, is killed in the line of duty, Meg Knowles first attempts suicide and then wants to retreat from other people. She winds up living on the outskirts of the Marshall G. Portwell Wetlands Preserve (actually, a swamp) in Georgia, where she is on Frog Watch. Nightly, she monitors the calls of five species of frogs. She finds that there are more frogs in this swamp than similar areas and they have no deformities. Even odder are her neighbors. Great story from one of the best.

The issue concludes with "Entangled" by Ian R. MacLeod -+- Martha Chauhan had come to England with her brother and father when she was a child. Her father tried to protect her from the chaos that was happening in the world, but she had met up with Karl, an anarchist-artist with a different point of view. When their home was attacked, her brother was killed and she was left with a brain injury. As a result, she cannot be entangled like the rest of the world, a result of a virus that linked everyone's minds. She is treated as a person with a disability and has found work that she can do. But her past catches up with her in another fine story from a great writer.

A good way to end 2013. Subscribe to Asimov's!

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