Locus Online


stories from



DEC 1997


Stories published March 1998
reviewed by Mark R. Kelly

Howard Waldrop, ''Mr. Goober's Show'' (Omni Online Mar 1998)
In the '50s 8-year-old Eldon and his sister discover their aunt's old-style TV, with a mirrored lid on top rather than a screen in front, and watch a show with no sound they dub 'Mr. Goober's Show'. Years later they try to identify the show, but no one's ever heard of it. Was it for real? Or contact from beyond? The story combines an X-Files riff with nostalgia for obsolete technology and childhood memories.

Robert Silverberg, ''The Colonel in Autumn'' (Science Fiction Age Mar 1998) Alien Entities come to Earth, disconnecting humanity's technological infrastructure without explanation. The point of view character is a retired Vietnam vet living in Santa Barbara, who quickly realizes along with the rest of the world that resistance is futile. Over the decades the Colonel brings his family together but loses touch with a transformed world. A long story related to two earlier Silverberg pieces, ''Beauty in the Night'' and ''On the Inside'', this one takes an explicitly agnostic position about the possibility of understanding alien motivations.

Stefano Donati, ''The Last of the Glass Menageries'' (F&SF Mar 1998) Tennessee Williams, C. M. Kornbluth's ''The Marching Morons'', and an extrapolation of the AIDS epidemic combine in an impressive story by a new writer. Sexdeath causes any instance of 'body sex' to lead to death a few months later, so smart people avoid having sex, and the only children being born are from the reckless, ignorant, or stupid. When Dennis' pregnant sister Esther, who has Down's Syndrome, survives past childbirth, he realizes she is one of the rare 'Miracle' exceptions -- and so he might be one too.

Mark J. McGarry, ''The Mercy Gate'' (F&SF Mar 1998) Two humans accompany alien grave robbers to a dead city on a world destroyed aeons ago by an unknown alien race. When one of the humans is killed by the Portal that is their only escape, the survivors realize the danger is still very close. Poetic and powerful writing redeems otherwise familiar space opera situations.

Paul Di Filippo, ''Don't Let Them See You Nova'' (Interzone Mar 1998) A screenwriter trying to live down the fiasco of his previous project, ''The Foundation Trilogy'', has a new pitch for Dreamworks SKG: Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men and Starmaker, combined into a musical starring Julia Roberts. Absurd? Not when a true Hollywood pitchman is at work.

Eric Brown, ''Vulpheous'' (Interzone Mar 1998) On an exotic alien world whose sun will soon go nova, an explorer searches for the last remaining specimen of an aquatic species in order to capture a cure for the disease that killed his wife. Meanwhile, a local girl searches for the same creature for similar but conflicting reasons. An affecting tale about personal vs. greater good.

David Marusek, ''Getting to Know You'' (Asimov's Mar 1998) About a woman and her new computerized personal assistant, or 'bug', that quickly learns more about her tastes, habits, and motives than she anticipates. Marusek made a splash with his 1995 novella ''We Were Out of Minds with Joy''; this new story is smaller in scope but just as dazzling in detail.

Tony Daniel, ''Radio Praha'' (Asimov's Mar 1998) An American advertising consultant hangs out in a smoky Prague bar and meets a former CIA agent with an amazing, tragic story about a government experiment -- in the 1980s! -- in which a device built of crystalline vacuum tubes stops time. A blend of steampunk and film noir.

Mary Rosenblum, ''The Eye of God'' (Asimov's Mar 1998) A typically highly-emotional Rosenblum tale of a human woman recruited for an alien rescue mission, with revelations about humanity's relationship to the aliens and the woman's relationships to those she loves.

Howard Waldrop, ''Scientifiction'' (Asimov's Mar 1998) Far future bugs live in the glow of a huge, dull red sun, until one day a ''Sparky'' erupts in their sky. A complex homage (to Wells among many others) that functions as a sort of puzzle for readers to deduce what the author is describing in oblique terms.

© 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.