russ (goulo) wrote,

Asimov's SF, December 2012

I fell a little behind in my Asimov's reading, but I recently read and enjoyed the December 2012 issue.

Chris Becket: "The Caramel Forest" (the cover illustration story) was a good one from the point of view of a child (a style I don't normally go for particularly). Combination of dysfunctional family dynamics as seen by the young daughter and science fiction of an alien planet with strange indigenous creatures as seen by the young daughter, both threads ultimately rather depressing. In a strange way the ending reminded me of Joanna Russ's powerful classic "When It Changed", in the sense of would-be "rescuers" clumsily unfortunately "saving" someone who doesn't need or want it.

Mike Resnick: "The Wizard of 34th Street" was an enjoyable short read, not particularly deep but a nice distracting yarn about the problems of what if you could see the future clearly and thus help people. I suspected the ending before it came.

Ken Liu: "The Waves". Probably my favorite this issue (competing with "The Caramel Forest" & "Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected"); I read it early one morning, then read it again aloud to Anna! Truly epic grand scope, we start out on a generation starship with a married couple having an unexpected technical/ethical disagreement, and then things take off from there. Sort of successive levels of zooming out in those youtube videos about the scale of the universe, with a similar sense of awe. Plus there are nicely interwoven traditional creation myths which the protagonist tells to her children and grandchildren. And despite the grand scale, the individual characters and their connections and conflicts felt quite believable and real and engaging to me. Somehow this one really grabbed and impressed me, so much so that I began thinking about translating it... It also reminds me a bit of my friend Mike Brotherton's fine short story "The Point".

Sandra McDonald: "The Black Feminist's Guide to Science Fiction Film Editing". A lighter story with extremely broad satire of too-strict feminism and too-stupid anti-feminism, in the context of film revisionism. Like whether Han shot first, but much bigger scale changes... Lots of references to real sf films, very meta. Fun concept, but as a story it felt inconclusive in the end to me.

Robert Reed: "The Pipes of Pan". A sketchy abstract story, sort of a future history summary of several events in the life of a scientist and world catastrophes mixed with philosophizing about man's bestial nature. Like the previous story, this one wasn't so engaging as a story for me.

Steven Popkes: "Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected". The longest story this issue, very music geeky, about a talented but has-been rock musician who gets hired to help an AI music performer (like those current goofy anime character concert singers like Hatsune Miku) write better music. A story about creativity and about getting active again. It hooked me in with believable interesting characters & verisimilitude even though I don't really know all the music technical blah-blah - that doesn't stop me from knowing the experience of hearing music and the magic of creative brainstorming with someone.
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