Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Asimov's Science Fiction, October/November 2000

Asimov's SF, October/November 2000
Asimov's SF
Asimov's SF Website has excerpts from upcoming issues, book reviews, online interviews and chats with many favourite writers, Isaac Asimov's famous Editorials, Robert Silverberg's controversial Reflections column, reprints of classic Asimov's stories, puzzles, letters, and cartoons.

Asimov's SF Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nick Gevers

A quite impressive array of fiction in this Asimov's double issue: a new novella in Larry Niven's "Man-Kzin Wars" sequence; a long and sensuous exploration of the future potentials of bull-fighting; a new ironic glance at the matter of Verhoeven's Starship Troopers; an equally ironic take on the issues of The Island of Doctor Moreau... As seems to be customary, Gardner Dozois has reserved much of the best of his inventory for his October/November showcase, making it in effect one of the year's major original SF anthologies.

"Tauromaquia," a short novel originally published online in the webzine Event Horizon, deserves special mention, not least because its four authors -- Daniel Abraham, Michaela Roessner, Sage Walker, and Walter Jon Williams -- somehow in collaboration write in a seamlessly unified style, one rich in knowledge of the techniques and rhythms of the martial arts they describe, rich also in the textures of a decadent far future imagined in common. A ruthless elaboration of the arts of bullfighting endows "Tauromaquia" with formal fascination and passionate conflict; Romeo and Juliet is evoked throughout, with interest; and the novella's climax is magnificently cathartic, a fine resolution of momentous concerns. Ole, ole.

Stephen Baxter's novelette "On The Orion Line," a sequel to his short story "Silver Ghost" in the September Asimov's, also deserves high praise; ever the clinical ironist, Baxter again exposes a wet-behind-the-ears human protagonist, indigenous to an equally immature and historically amnesiac spacefaring culture, to the Hard SF challenges of contact with mysterious aliens, finding him and all those like him as grievously wanting as any Robert Heinlein starship trooper ground through Paul Verhoeven's mill. Thus does Baxter invert the clichés of gung-ho military SF.

And the ever-stylish and ever-sprightly Eleanor Arnason does some parodic jesting of her own in "The Cloud Man," a sequel to her award-nominated "Stellar Harvest," visiting a sort of Island of Doctor Moreau where the newly intelligent beasts are gentle custodians, and the true monsters are humans from the dystopian past, including (perhaps) Margaret Thatcher. Arnason is the Chief Wit of feminist SF, but in a mild vein; Liz Williams strikes a far more savage note in her fine story "Ancestors' Song," in which the human species becomes about as casually and callously bestial as the imagination can allow, the moral of "The Cloud Man" ferociously re-emphasized...

Humanity takes further hard knocks in Tom Purdom's curious tale of combat-by-committee, "Sergeant Mother Glory," which asks whether any lesson is ever truly learned, whatever amount of bureaucratic attention is directed its way. In the end, the sheer moronic drabness of human existence, a quality Steven Utley captures with dour flair in his long-running series of Silurian tales, is perhaps best countered through the assertion of plain humble love, which the protagonists of "Chain of Life" proceed, humbly, plainly, to do. Or there is the escape route of blithe insanity, which Jim Grimsley sums up with daft relish in the very short story "Peggy's Plan."

Whether the glib heroism of Larry Niven's space operas quite constitutes escapism of Peggy's infantile sort is best left to the individual reader's judgement; but Niven's new novella "Fly-By-Night" is rather rousing in a silly way, so why not praise it also, in the spirit of expansive generosity it inspires? All right, then: Niven is not at his best here, but for many, his next best will serve. And as an SF magazine, Asimov's for October and November serves very well indeed.

Copyright © 2001 Nick Gevers

Since completing a Ph.D. on uses of history in SF, Nick Gevers has become a moderately prolific reviewer and interviewer in the field of speculative fiction. He has published in INTERZONE, NOVA EXPRESS, the NEW YORK REVIEW OF SF, and GALAXIES; much of his work is available at INFINITY PLUS, of which he is Associate Editor. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide