Locus Online


stories from

DEC 1997


Stories published January 1998
reviewed by Mark R. Kelly

Geoff Ryman, ''Family, or The Nativity and Flight into Egypt considered as episodes of I Love Lucy'' (Interzone Jan 1998) An unusual and remarkable work posing as a sample of a potentially-ongoing project in interactive fiction. Ryman provides two complete episodes that combine, to varying degrees, the traditional Christmas story with characters and situations from the popular 1950s sitcom. One is serious, character-driven, and moving; the other, formatted as a script, is slapstick.

Pat Cadigan, ''What I Got for Christmas'' (Interzone Jan 1998) In near-future London, a teenage girl is taken over by runaway nanomachines. A portrait of life on the streets dovetails with the Christmas story since the girl's transformation depends on her being a machine-virgin.

Graham Joyce, ''The Mountain Eats People'' (Interzone Jan 1998) Supernatural thriller about a ski instructor returning to the mountain where he's suffered disasters. With moody characterizations and expert ski scenes.

Sheila Finch, ''Reading the Bones'' (F&SF Jan 1998) Latest in the author's 'lingster' series about an interstellar guild of linguists tackling human-alien problems. In this long novella, a down and out lingster is left in charge of two young girls when local natives rampage against the human colony on their planet. The alien mystery resolves to a ''Quest for Fire''-like moment when a crucial moment of language invention is witnessed.

Dale Bailey, ''Night of the Fireflies'' (F&SF Jan 1998) A Bradburyesque fable about creativity, democracy, and new modes of storytelling.

David Gerrold, ''Jumping Off the Planet'' (SF Age Jan 1998) Novella about three boys and their father on a journey up a space elevator to the moon. The parents are estranged, and the boys realize they are pawns in a custody battle. Like a Heinlein juvenile, this is an engrossing tale about new experiences and growing up, with Gerrold incorporating 90s social themes -- gay relationships and juvenile independence from parents.

Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, ''The Wire Continuum'' (Playboy Jan 1998) Despite the byline, this is pretty obviously a story by Baxter using themes from Clarke's career in a clever alternate history. (There is no minimalist Clarkeian prose here.) Whereas Clarke actually predicted geosynchronous satellites as a means of global communication, in Baxter's version he predicts matter transmission by wire, and likewise it comes to pass. The story follows, in decade leaps, the development of a space program (with revolutions in social relationships kept in the background) leading to a Childhood's End-like transformation of humanity's youth.

© 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.