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short stories


Recommended 1997 Short Stories

John Barnes "Between Shepherds and Kings" (Free Space, ed. Linaweaver and Kramer; Tor, 7/97) Malzbergian tale of a writer planning a story for Free Space who ponders the plausibility of a universe containing capitalism, privateers, and FTL travel. [Reviewed 7/97]

''Glass Earth Inc.'', Stephen Baxter (Odyssey Nov/Dec 97) Brilliant, idea-rich tale of a murder investigation in 2045 London that reveals the dangers of information technology that filters and manipulates reality.

Stephen Baxter, "Moon Six" (SF Age 3/97) A set of alternate history moon landings strands an astronaut in a 1960s Florida he never knew. [Reviewed 4/97]

Stephen Baxter, "Sun God" (Interzone 6/97) Baxter comes up with yet another way to look at variations of the space program, as a far future explorer tries to understand an ancient artefact found floating in space. [Reviewed 9/97]

Stephen Baxter, ''War Birds'' (Interzone Dec 1997) The latest in a series of stories Baxter has written over the past couple years exploring alternate histories that affect the space program. In this story disaster befalls Apollo 11 on the moon, the US blames the Soviet Union, militarizes its space program, and attempts to dominate the world by force. Baxter combines political and technical savvy to create a frightening, plausible scenario.

Stephen Baxter, "Zemlya" (Asimov's 1/97) Yuri Gagarin sets off for Venus in 1964 despite reports from the American Mariner probe that Venus is not covered with oceans after all. [Reviewed 12/96]

M. Shayne Bell, "Bright, New Skies" (F&SF 6/97) A Siberian scientist has the key for saving species threatened by an ozone-stripped world drenched in UV, but does it mean changing them into something they're not? [Reviewed 7/97]

Gregory Benford, "Galaxia" (SF Age 7/97) A wormhole chase through interstellar space told in poetic, scientifically rigorous language, with a catchy aphorism or two: "Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced." [Reviewed 8/97]

Gregory Benford, "The Voice" (SF Age 5/97) Young people in a far future underground society rediscover reading. [Reviewed 5/97]

Michael Bishop, "Cyril Berganske" (Omni Online 5/97) A man suffering nosebleeds visits a psychotherapist to complain he is not taken seriously as a potential messiah. Another Bishop investigation into the sacred and the profane. [Reviewed 8/97]

Terry Bisson, "An Office Romance" (Playboy 2/97) Playful, clever virtual reality tale about workers inside Microserf Office 6.9 exploiting easter eggs to reset options inside their environment. [Reviewed 3/97]

"The Player", Terry Bisson (F&SF Oct/Nov 97) Vignette of far future humans who discover a device that keeps the universe running. An evocative take on the anthropic principle.

"Paul and Me", Michael Blumlein (F&SF Oct/Nov 97) A survivor of the 70s recalls meeting a giant in the woods--and their subsequent affair over 20 years. Sly, subversive, and touching.

''Doctor Dodge'', Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff (Interzone Nov 97) Parable of a man who tries to avoid Death by repeatedly changing his name, his career, his residence -- until caught up by loneliness.

Mark Bourne, "Mustard Seed" (F&SF 8/97) A midwestern priest claims that the aliens who have come to Earth are not covered by Christ's salvation; then she meets one. A timely comparison to the film "Contact", which may be substantive by the standards of movie sci-fi but pales in comparison to the issues routinely tackled by prose SF such as this. [Reviewed 9/97]

Eric Brown, "The Eschatarium at Lyssia" (Interzone 8/97) Exotic planetary romance about an artist returning to the planet where his wife died to confront alien ghosts -- and learn why he had his memories of the event erased.

Tom Cool, "Universal Emulators" (F&SF 7/97) Clever complications on a ship at sea with emulators, who stand in for people too busy to be everywhere at once. [Reviewed 8/97]

Stephen Dedman, "Tour de Force" (Asimov's 3/97) Scientists and pirates converge at the site of a buried alien spacecraft in remote Australia and engage in a war of wits and rash assumptions. [Reviewed 2/97]

Paul Di Filippo, "Alice, Alfie, Ted and the Aliens" (Interzone 3/97) Alice Sheldon and Alfie Bester meet a weird religious cult and mysterious aliens. Like something out of recent headlines. [Reviewed 5/97]

''The Happy Valley at the End of the World'', Paul Di Filippo (Interzone Nov 97) In a 1939 in which most of the world's non-Africans have died of plague, Antoine de Saint-Exupery tries to enlist the help of a band of decadent Brits in Kenya to help him rebuild the world, in the manner of Wells' Things to Come. Special appearance by Jimmy Ballard.

S. N. Dyer, "Sins of the Mothers" (F&SF 5/97) A middle-aged earth mother becomes host for her rock star son's clone. [Reviewed 6/97]

Greg Egan, "Yeyuka" (Meanjin, 1997) Disease has been conquered--at least for nations and individuals that can afford the HealthGuard monitors. Less abstract and ambitious than Egan's usual but still sharp and inventive. [Reviewed 8/97]

Nancy Etchemendy, "Saints and Martyrs" (F&SF 7/97) A woman takes in a stray cat after her husband dies of overindulgence. Quiet and homey. [Reviewed 8/97]

Karen Joy Fowler, "Standing Room Only" (Asimov's 8/97) In Washington, D. C., 1865, the daughter of a boarding house owner thrills to the presence in town of actor John Wilkes Booth. [Reviewed 7/97]

Peter T. Garratt, "The Inauguration" (Interzone 1/97) Obvious but hilarious political satire in which "Toad" Gettrich and his crony meet real aliens from outer space. [Reviewed 3/97]

"Space Opera", by Michael Kandel -- available at Omni Online -- presents programs notes of a five act opera set in spaceports and DNA laboratories of the far future. The opera's plot is characteristically absurd, the notes pretentiously speculative. It's a hoot.

James Patrick Kelly, "Itsy Bitsy Spider" (Asimov's 6/97) A woman finds her elderly father comforted by a robot version of herself as a girl. [Reviewed 5/97]

John Kessel, ''Gulliver at Home'' (an original story in the author's collection The Pure Product) Lemuel Gulliver's long-suffering wife Mary recounts her life, telling how her husband would disappear on voyages for years at a time while she remained behind, struggling to keep their household from penury. The story is a meta-fantasy exploring the mundane flipside of a famous fantasy tale, while commenting on how the fantastic relates to the ordinary (rather as SF relates to realistic fiction); Mary concludes about Lemuel:

He was a man who looked outward while the inward part of himself withered. He was drawn to the blank space outside the known world; we are too small to make a mark on his map. To Lemuel ordinary people are interesting only as we represent large things.

Mary Kittredge, "Her House in Order" (F&SF 7/97) Another quiet fantasy about a haunted house in New England -- but not haunted the way the residents think. [Reviewed 8/97]

Aimee Kratts, "Call Me Sue" (Asimov's 9/97) Madcap comedy with the flavor of Terry Bisson about a harried young woman who discovers that all time and space is collapsing into her kitchen. [Reviewed 9/97]

''Walter's Christmas Night Musik'', Susan J. Kroupa (Realms of Fantasy Dec 97) Charming tale of a hapless music store clerk who is visited by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Handel on Christmas Eve, all eager to hear their latest CDs.

Ragnar Kvaran and S. J. Beadle, "The Hotel Vivienne" (tomorrowsf volume 1, online) A westerner succumbs to native forces on a remote Indian Ocean island. [Reviewed 4/97]

Geoffrey A. Landis, "Winter Fire" (Asimov's 8/97) A young girl's harrowing account of 22nd century Salzburg in the middle of ethnic war. [Reviewed 7/97]

Rand B. Lee, "The Pearl" (F&SF 3/97) A gay black hustler commits suicide and recapitulates his life as a ghost. [Reviewed 4/97]

Tanith Lee, "After I Killed Her" (Asimov's 7/97) A successful dragon-fighter contemplates the self-centeredness of humanity and changes his ways. [Reviewed 6/97]

Tanith Lee, "Old Flame" (Realms of Fantasy 2/97) Ornate tale of two star-crossed lovers and a cursed candle. [Reviewed 4/97]

Paul J. McAuley, "All Tomorrow's Parties" (Interzone 5/97) A prequel to McAuley's next novel, Child of the River: a grand party set on a recreated Earth five million years in the future sets the stage for a battle for the direction of human evolution. [Reviewed 8/97]

Rebecca Ore, "Collected Ogoense" (Asimov's 10-11/97) An American biologist obsessed with African killifish gets into trouble with a Gabonese customs official and plans revenge on the co-worker who betrayed her.

Rebecca Ore, "My Mother, the Alien, and Me" (F&SF 4/97) A girl and her mother, a sucker for males in pain, take in an injured alien. [Reviewed 5/97]

Paul Park, "Get a Grip" (Omni Online 3/97) A man learns the world doesn't make sense because it's not real. [Reviewed 5/97]

Kit Reed, "Rajmahal" (F&SF 6/97) Three points of view of a group of American tourists at a newly refurbished Indian monument. [Reviewed 7/97]

Robert Reed, "Blooming Ice" (SF Age 1/97) A troubled boy and his family hike on an ice colony world where ferocious animals are about to thaw from the ice. [Reviewed 2/97]

Robert Reed, "Graffiti" (F&SF 6/97) Well-crafted tale about two high school students who discover the secret of their town -- a sewer wall that depicts crimes in progress -- and try to use it to their advantage. [Reviewed 7/97]

Robert J. Sawyer, "The Hand You're Dealt" (Free Space, Linaweaver and Kramer, eds.; Tor, 7/97) Clever murder mystery aboard a habitat where everyone is required to have two soothsayings -- readings of their genetic propensities -- in their lives. [Reviewed 7/97]

Darrell Schweitzer, "Refugees from an Imaginary Country" (Interzone 2/97) An underground comic-strip artist claims the grotesque world he draws is real. [Reviewed 4/97]

Charles Sheffield, "What Would You Like to Know?" (SF Age 3/97) A new computerized library query system offers natural language answers to absolutely anything. [Reviewed 4/97]

Robert Silverberg, "The Church at Monte Saturno" (Realms of Fantasy 4/97) A western art historian is unsettled by evidence of ancient demons at a ruined church in Sicily. [Reviewed 6/97]

Brian Stableford, ''Coming to Terms with the Great Plague'' (Omni Online Dec 1997) False Memory Syndrome spreads throughout the population, afflicting people with memories of events that never happened. For men, usually, affairs with beautiful women; for women, children they never had. Stableford explores possible causes of the syndrome -- meme infection, alien plots, a VR firm's marketing campaign -- while slyly making it apparent that, when memories can't be trusted, no explanation really matters. The paradox leaves the reader more uneasy than any of the characters.

Lisa Tuttle, "Soul Song" (Interzone 5/97) A BBC researcher sets out to discover the truth behind a famous composer who disappeared in 1940 and the lover who may have completed his final work. [Reviewed 8/97]

"Quin's Shanghai Circus", Jeff VanderMeer (Interzone, Oct 97) An evocative short story of a future city in which a down-and-out artist appeals to a maker of exotic critters for help, or employment.

Ian Watson, "Nanunculus" (Interzone 1/97) A cyber-agent ponders the nature of the pole on which Christ was crucified while in the service of a suicidal scientist investigating negative time. [Reviewed 3/97]

Robin Wilson, "Faster than a Speeding Bullet" (F&SF 1/97) Software genius, struck by tiny alien spacecraft, becomes Superman and ponders how best to do good in the world. [Reviewed 2/97]

''Tomorrow Tea'', Laurel Winter (F&SF Dec 97) Delicate tale of two sisters who create blends of tea to sell to an itinerant buyer.

Gene Wolfe, "No Planets Strike" (F&SF 1/97) Christmas SF tale inspired by a line from Hamlet; genetically enhanced animals on a world of alien Beautiful People. [Reviewed 2/97]

Batya Swift Yasgur & Barry N. Malzberg, "Blessing the Last Family" (Realms of Fantasy 4/97) Uriel the good angel and Ashmodai the bad angel vie for dominance over the harmony of the Davidson household. [Reviewed 6/97]

Jane Yolen, "Fallen Angel" (Realms of Fantasy 6/97) Charming tale about an angel that falls to earth and is found by three children whose parents don't believe in heaven. Full of wonder and discovery, good-naturedly challenging the skeptical nature of the modern world. [Reviewed 9/97]

(Dates in brackets indicate issues of Locus where full reviews appeared.)

© 1997 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.