January 10th, 2010


Demons May Charm You With a Smile, for a While

It's 2010!

How did that happen?

Both Asimovs and Analog got off to a pretty solid start to the new year. Both of their January issues included nothing spectacular, but at least a couple of good, enjoyable stories.

From Asimovs, I enjoyed Robert Reed's The Good Hand, an intriguing look at what the world might be like, if the USA had become more dominant earlier. Reed is a smart enough writer to make this sort of thing work, with enough background to make it believable and enough depth to the politics to keep things interesting.

And also from Asimovs, Felicity Shoulders delivers Conditional Love. It's a nice, disturbing story about the possibililities emerging from scientific advances and the ability to design our children. Like Reed's story, it's an idea which could lend itself to a black and white, moralistic telling, but like Reed, Shoulders creates the scenario believably and thoughtfully.

It struck me while reading Analog's Jan/Feb issue, that what this magazine does best is to create believable micro-details of scientific futures. The two stories I'll mention here are both examples of that being done well.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch is probably the most consistently good Analog author, and I enjoyed her story here, The Possession of Paavo Deshin, a nice study on adoption law under a system of social mores significantly alien to our own, with a central dilemma reminiscent of Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle. It's a nicely crafted story which, despite its length, managed to maintain my interest all the way to the end.

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff's Simple Gifts is a similarly archetypal Analog story, this time dealing with the difficulties of translation and understanding when entering a new alien culture. Again, despite the SF background, it's a very ground-level story, and it works because the extrapolation and detail are interesting and convincing.

So a good start to the year for both mags.
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