Locus Online


stories from







Stories published June 1998
reviewed by Mark R. Kelly

Stephen King, ''That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is In French'' (The New Yorker June 22 & 29 1998)
The feeling of course is déjà vu, and it appears to Carol as she and her husband Bill drive to a Florida resort to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Her anxiety mounts, she sees Bill's face melt -- and then she wakes up back on the plane to Florida. The situation is familiar to genre readers: a reality breakdown variation of a ''Groundhog Day'' endless loop. King dresses up his tale in appropriate literary clothing, with near stream-of-consciousness narration and easy flashbacks, and the implied 'explanation' is more strictly religious than one usually sees in genre tales.
(Wed 22 Jul 98)

Dominic Green, ''That Thing Over There'' (Interzone June 1998)
High in Tibet explorers discover ruins of an advanced race of ''yeh-teh'', meaning ''that thing over there'', and uncover evidence of a technologically superior race besieged by its neighbors into starvation. When yeti DNA is recovered, it quickly becomes valued on the black market as the key to the harsh but superior traits of the lost race. Green cleverly finesses a way to merge a lost race tale with a comment about modern racial attitudes.

Tanith Lee, ''Yellow & Red'' (Interzone June 1998)
A man inherits a big old country house from his uncle and discovers his relatives had a history of illness and dying young -- though only so long as they lived in that house. The story is creepy in a comforting way, unsurprising yet pleasureful; a cozy horror story.

Keith Brooke, ''Segue'' (Interzone June 1998)
Westerners in Kashmir are constantly at risk of being kidnapped and held for ransom. Newspaper stringer Pat Leahy takes the risk when he goes to identify a mysterious anonymous Westerner who appeared one day in a remote village. Warned ''not to lose sight of the real world'', Leahy nevertheless finds himself living a ''story that's told so often it takes on a life of its own''.

(Wed 22 Jul 98)

Nancy Etchemendy, ''Double Silver Truth'' (F&SF June 1998)
In the Nevada mining town of Pactolus, a Cornish girl and her Mormon best friend both respond when an alluring but disreputable new boy moves to town. The fantasy element is almost perfunctory; the story's strength is its rich characterization, and the familiar anguish of adolescence, that contribute to a moving conclusion.

Robert C. Taylor, ''A Prisoner of History'' (F&SF June 1998)
A former university historian is released from the Emperor's prison and finds he has nowhere to go but a colony of other former prisoners who have little use for his profession. A somewhat dense but fascinating examination of the transformation of a man's worldview, from living for history to living for himself. Taylor is a rare writer, with just three previously published stories almost 30 years ago, including the 1968 Nebula-nominated ''Idiot's Mate''.

Mary A. Turzillo, ''Chrysoberyl'' (F&SF June 1998)
Utterly charming tale about a shy female veterinarian and the winged iguana -- er, dragon -- that competes for her attentions with a friendly museum volunteer. An effective blend of fantasy and romance.

James Patrick Kelly, ''Lovestory'' (Asimov's June 1998)
Kelly's fifteenth consecutive story in a June issue of Asimov's is an alien viewpoint story about a race with just two sexes but three roles in rearing offspring: the father; a mother who bears the child; and a second female, the ''Mam'', who nurtures the child in a pouch and raises it through childhood. Kelly depicts a torn family whose mother has run off to live with visiting aliens (apparently humans) but who then returns with revelations about possible ways of living. In its appeal to alien exoticism and its emotional power, this story invites comparison with the classics.

Ian McDonald, ''The Days of Solomon Gursky'' (Asimov's June 1998)
A novella in seven sections about a future in which nanotech leads, not to immortality, but to easy resurrection. Sol and his partner escape corporate control for outer space, moving further and further out toward a far future resurrection of the entire universe, a la Frank Tipler's Omega Point theory. McDonald's description of how to recreate a universe is extravagantly plausible.

Sarah Clemens, ''Red'' (Asimov's June 1998)
In 1963 Memphis, a white girl staying with her grandmother befriends the daughter of the black housekeeper. Together the girls discover the secret of a great-grandmother's antique box. The fantasy/horror revelation is easily guessed, but the character relationships are subtle and compelling.

Paul J. McAuley, ''17'' (Asimov's June 1998)
The title character is a teenaged girl working in a factory on a planet of Delta Pavonis, determined to escape a life of drudgery by attracting the notice of the bosses during an upcoming hunt. A very personal tale that vividly evokes a vast, complex far future culture.

Charles L. Harness, ''The GUAC Bug'' (Analog June 1998)
The discovery of a biological agent in a meteorite from Mars triggers a legal battle over the ''process description'' necessary for a patent. The courtroom scene pits experts familiar with cryptology schemes involving 512 digit encryption keys against basic knowledge of RNA codons (G, U, A, and C) and Poe's ''The Gold Bug''. An entertaining lesson in the dangers of applying techniques of one field to problems of another.

© 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.