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thoughts on the April/May 2008 Asimov's

Marvelous issue. Not a bad story in the lot.

"Memory Dog" by Kathleen Ann Goonan blew me away. "This is the tree that I have decided to run into" was a poignant refrain. A very special story and I wonder if Sheila does the same thing I try to do? It was something I learned as a performance musician: start and end every set with your strongest pieces. The sense of wonder at the denouement was almost tangible.

"Slidin'" by Neal Barrett, Jr. was a very different post-apocalyptic tale. It turned a lot of ideas on their ears - very hard to do in such a short story.

"The House Left Empty" by Robert Reed was a sad tale about wasted opportunities and complacency. Cautionary tales should revolve around those concepts more often.

"An Almanac for the Alien Invaders" by Merrie Haskell was about quislings and the choices they have to make - and the justification they make within their minds to stay sane. Or not. Read it and decide for yourself.

"An Art, Like Everything Else" by Nick Wolven was a artful piece. Those who get off on symbolism will have a blast with it. I understood it was the dying echoes of a man's dying lover and companion and yet I was annoyed with the constant flitting in an out of "reality." But that just meant I was empathizing with the protagonist, who was rather tired of the ghosting personality in his e-world, even as he missed him.

"An Alien Heresy" paired an ET with the Inquisition. Wow, talk about your shiny ideas. It gave me chills.

"Ghost Town" by Catherine Wells talked about the displacement felt by a victim of light speed theory. It's a very human tale. I was moved by it.

"Strangers When We Meet" by Kate Wilhlem was simply marvelous - one of the best stories of the issue. The insights into recent brain research were fascinating, and made a lovely counterpoint to the human drama that they unleashed. Highly recommended but then...this is Kate Wilhlem. What else would you expect?

"Another Country" by Matthew Johnson was entertaining. I'm not a fan of fantasy but this was so far off the usual playing field that I was riveted. Alternative history, urban fantasy AND sociology? Great!

"The Advocate" by Barry B. Longyear was utterly engrossing. The experimental style of the thing--epistolary as in "note to self"--was noteworthy in its own right. But the interwoven themes of aging, transfer of consciousness, hope in technology, aging and the first-person narrative were powerful. The last line will haunt me, as it would any writer. Well done.

There is a reason that "The Room of Lost Souls" gets the cover nod and the cover illustration. It is the best storytelling in the issue with enough red herrings to start a scarlet kippers shop. Wonderful, wonderful characterization abounds and the interconnections all snap into place at the end with the best of inevitable surprises. Very, very good stuff.

All in all a very good issue. I enjoyed it.