Locus Online


stories from


DEC 1997


Stories published February 1998
reviewed by Mark R. Kelly

Kathleen Ann Goonan, Elizabeth Hand & John Clute, Kim Newman, Jonathan Lethem, ''The Darcy Bee'' (Omni Online Feb 1998)
The latest online story composed 'round robin' style, this one is about a girl, Darcy, who runs away to join a circus full of very strange animals. She's also stolen her brother's computer, with which she adjusts the ''fine-tunings of the world''. As she gradually learns what's really going on, the story moves toward familiar SF revelations. It's fascinating to see not only how each writer extends or modifies the ideas from previous installments, but also how the group's combined effort seems to move inevitably toward certain genre themes like strange attractors.

Ian R. MacLeod, ''Home Time'' (F&SF Feb 1998) Vivid time travel tale about a team attempting to rescue a member of Scott's doomed 1912 Antarctic expedition. In MacLeod's conception, the rules of time travel prohibit changing the past -- any attempt to do so would maroon the travelers in limbo -- but the circumstances of Scott's expedition give the team a loophole to work with. A strong character perspective motivates the story to a Heinleinian solipsistic twist.

Greg Egan, ''The Planck Dive'' (Asimov's Feb 1998) Like Landis's ''Approaching Perimelasma'' last month, this is a hard SF story about descending into a black hole. But the perspective is different: Egan explores the abstract physics of the journey (as illustrated at his website), and adds a humanist counterpoint as a self-styled narrologist arrives from Earth to document the explorers' trip in the manner of the ancient myths. Egan pits the two cultures against each other for the right to best represent the world.

Michael Swanwick, ''The Very Pulse of the Machine'' (Asimov's Feb 1998) Hard SF about an explorer stranded on the surface of Io, the moon of Jupiter, dragging her dead partner back to their lander. Her partner's body begins speaking -- it's actually the moon itself, somehow energized by its mineral content and Jupiter's magnetic field. Swanwick's story is as rigorous as anything in Analog, but leads to transcendence rather than perserverance.

Walter Jon Williams, ''The Picture Business'' (Asimov's Feb 1998) Funny tale of a mob hit man who appropriates the home of one of his victims and discovers the household mediatron, a device for digitally remixing old movies. After he views ''Public Enemy'', he sets about remaking it to show what the life of a gangster is really like -- not a good idea.

Eliot Fintushel, ''Izzy and the Hypocrite Lecteur'' (Asimov's Feb 1998) New tale about motel manager Izzy Molson and his pal Sarvaduhka as they bend time, and storytelling conventions, in order for Izzy to finally meet the love of his life.

David Langford, ''The Spear of the Sun'' (Asimov's Feb 1998) A reprint from Interzone, actually, but if you missed it there, this is a delightful alternate history in the form of a story from G. K. Chesterton's Science Fiction Magazine -- with foot- and end-notes as delicious as the story itself.

© 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.