Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mundanespotting Asimov's January 2012

Posted by frankh at 6:47 PM
Okay, so I haven't been reading new short fiction lately. I had some from last year ready to go, but I never got around to posting. So I guess I haven't been all that organized either. But now I'm going to try to work with the 2012 Asimov's, at least. Here's an easy start.

1) "Bruce Springsteen" by Paul McAuley -- aliens in the first sentence
2) "Recyclable Material" by Katherine Marzinsky-- a self-aware AI robot picks up trash in an otherwise recognizable world
3) "Maiden Voyage" by Jack McDevitt -- a space jockey prepares for her first interstellar voyage
4) "The War is Over and Everyone Wins" by Zachary Jernigan -- family drama in near future America, after a plague has wiped out the white people
[3 more to go]


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mudanespotting Welcome to the Greenhouse

Posted by frankh at 11:03 AM
This is my first ever mundanespotting of a freebie review copy--WELCOME TO THE GREENHOUSE, edited by Gordon Van Gelder. This is an original anthology of 16 stories about "climate change," featuring several Big Name SF Writers. What a welcome relief from all the wish-fulfillment and thumb-twiddling bullshit that regularly gets published as SF--never mind the straight fantasy that now dominates.

During the Golden Age of SF, there was a consensus that atomic power and rocketry were big things in our future. It was just a matter of how the science and society would play out. Well, that has all pretty much played out, and sorry, we do not have a libertarian space age with unlimited resources. Now, as then, we need to make do with scientific reality. That reality now includes "climate change." The stories in this anthology speculate about how things will play out with that.

1) "Benkoelen" by Brian W. Aldiss -- Does a rising global tide sink all boats, even the upper middle class ones? This story takes a look-see.
2) "Damned When You Do" by Jeff Carlson -- What if a fantastic savior is born to fix things? I would give this one satirical mundane credit if it wasn't so sketchy
3) "The Middle of Somewhere" by Judith Moffett -- How to cope with tornadoes in the very near future? Quite thin on sf content, but creepy to read after the recent tornadopacalypse so I'll let it through the mundane filter
4) "Not A Problem" by Matthew Hughes -- What an intriguing idea! maybe aliens with ftl can help?
5) "Eagle" by Gregory Benford -- Here's a small hint about what geoengineering will be like.
6) "Come Again Some Other Day" by Michael Alexander -- What to put between Benford and Sterling? Mercifully short time travel crap.
7) "The Master of the Aviary" by Bruce Sterling -- Here's a look at the future of The Philosopher after The Fall; amusing, with good insights, but a bit sketchy towards the end
8) "Turtle Love" by Joseph Green -- Here's one about how the bureaucracy might handle the rising tide
9) "The California Queen Comes A-Calling" by Pat MacEwen -- Rising tide again, this time things are pretty bleak, but the legal system survives, like the postman in The Postman
10) "That Creeping Sensation" by Alan Dean Foster -- a nice short speculation about how nature might respond to the Big Changes
11) "The Men of Summer" by David Prill -- fantasy romance irrelevantly set in the future of climate change; I might welcome this in F&SF or Interzone but the space is wasted here
12) "The Bridge" by George Guthridge -- a good look at things falling apart in Alaska
13) "FarmEarth" by Paul Di Filippo -- maybe there is a video game solution to the problem; I'm a sucker for coming of ages stories, so I liked this
14) "Sundown" by Chris Lawson -- the sun stops working so well, and then our current climate problems don't seem at all bad; escapism, but nonetheless interesting speculation
15) "Fish Cakes" by Ray Vukcevich -- a very virtual life amidst the big time warming is what somewhat happily awaits us here
16) "True North" by M. J. Locke -- longer survivalist story in a very warm and bleak future; does our hero win? you'll have to read to find out

So that's it. Four out of the sixteen did not even get the coveted mundane label. Nonetheless, there's some good speculation here, and a fair amount of variety. This is a good mundane value for a $17 list price. It's too bad there is wasted space because some of the stories needed more room to develop. None of the stories really excited me, but some of the Big Name ones are at least worth a second read. I'm glad this book is available, and now I can get back to my regular mundanespotting rituals.


Mundanespotting F&SF March/April 2011

Posted by frankh at 11:00 AM
And here's the latest F&SF, crammed with 11 stories.

1) "Scatter My Ashes" by Albert E. Cowdrey -- fantasy
[that leaves 10 more, but I've abandoned the issue, sorry]


Mundanespotting Asimov's April/May 2011

Posted by frankh at 10:48 AM
Here's a double issue of Asimovs, featuring 11 stories.

1) "The Day the Wires Came Down" by Alexander Jablokov -- counterfactual boredom
[10 more to go, but I've abandoned the issue (though I might have finished it, don't remember), sorry]


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Mundanespotting Analog May 2011

Posted by frankh at 11:42 AM
The big three are back for another round. Analog is the thinnest so I will start with that. Blanket Spoiler warning: surprising alien twists!

1) "Tower of Worlds" by Rajnar Vajra -- humans and aliens are in some big tower doing stuff for many, many pages
2) "Boumee and the Apes" by Ian McHugh -- an elephant clan confronts the horror of a planet of apes! or something like that; not sure why this is in Analog; maybe this is our forgotten past or our elephant supremicist future, but I'm not going to read it to find out
3) "The Wolf and the Panther were Lovers" by Walter L. Kleine -- cowboy western in which, pinch me! the strange animals turn out to be aliens
4) "The Old Man's Best" by Bud Sparhawk -- jaded space workers out at Jupiter make homebrew to stick it to the Man
5) "Ellipses" by Ron Collins -- suburban neighbors turn out to be, what a shock! aliens
6) "Blind Spot" by Bond Elam -- fourth paragraph: "Effie is strictly software. She doesn't have a body of her own, so she's taken to commandeering the building's maintenance bot whenever she feels the need to assert herself physically."

So that one's a total bust.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mundanespotting Analog April 2011

Posted by frankh at 10:40 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is the 958th issue of Astounding/Analog.

1) "Hiding Place" by Adam-Troy Castro -- cyber-brain-merging interstellar something or other with "entire alien civilizations" mentioned on page 25
2) "Ian's Ions and Eons" by Paul Levinson -- time travel
3) "The Flare Weed" by Larry Niven -- space opera
4) "Two Look at Two" by Paula S. Jordan -- aliens
5) "Blessed Are the Bleak" by Edward M. Lerner -- brain dumps
6) "Remembering Rachel" by Dave Creek -- fantastic homicide investigation on the moon
7) "Quack" by Jerry Oltion -- counterfactual medicine
8) "Balm of Hurt Minds" by Thomas R. Dulski -- aliens

And not a very satisfying mundane issue.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Mundanespotting Asimov's March 2011

Posted by frankh at 11:14 AM
Here it is, the actual current issue of Asimov's.

1) "Clean" by John Kessel -- good geriatric mundane sf
2) "Where" by Neal Barrett, Jr. -- odd story lacking an infodump, but seems to be about child-like AI robots; maybe it's far future enough to be mundane if you're in the right mood
3) "'I Was Nearly Your Mother'" by Ian Creasey -- parallel universe crossover thumb-twiddling
4) "God in the Sky" by An Owomoyela -- totally big-ass supernatural thing in the sky in an otherwise mundane near future
5) "Movement" by Nancy Fulda -- temporal autism viewpoint chararacter; best story I have read so far this year
6) "The Most Important Thing in the World" by Steve Bein -- A cabdriver starts fooling around with a gadget left behind accidentally by a customer; and what a shocking turn of events, the gadget is a time machine!
7) "Lost in the Memory Palace, I Found You" by Nick Wolven -- this is cyberpunk without the punk or style, and sort of satirical without being clever; maybe it would make some mundane sense to you, but not to me
8) "Purple" by Robert Reed -- aliens

I definitely recommend the two highlighted mundane stories, and the rest is a typical mixed bag. And guess what? I'm up to date on the 2011 Asimov'ses. Stay tuned for the actual month of March to arrive.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Mundanespotting Analog March 2011

Posted by frankh at 2:29 PM
Not quite the current issue, but not to be missed because it has humonoid aliens on the cover.

1) "Rule Book" by Paul Carlson -- trucking in the age of AI robots taking over the human jobs
2) "Falls the Firebrand" by Sarah Frost -- aliens
3) "Hiding From Nobel" by Brad Aiken -- memories of a supernatural childhood event turn out to have a silly fantastic explanation
4) "Julie is Three" by Craig DeLancey -- contempory medical story about abnormal psychology; not very convincing, but I'm pretty tolerant about giving this sort of thing the mundane label
5) "Astronomic Distance, Geologic Time" by Bud Sparhawk -- grand universe-spanning whatever
6) "Taboo" by Jerry Oltion -- the near future is bright because thanks to some offscreen technology people are pretty much immortal and enjoying their hopefully eternal middle classness, but there are twists nonetheless; I'll tolerate this one too as mundane
7) "Betty Know and Dictionary Jones in 'The Mystery of the Missing Teenage Anachronisms'" by John G. Hemry -- time travel

Another Analog down, and not a total loss thanks to my softness for bogus biomedicine. The overall quality of the writing seems better, even.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mundanespotting Interzone #232 (Jan-Feb 2011)

Posted by frankh at 10:09 AM
The new Interzone has reached the U.S.

1) "Noam Chomsky and the Time Box" by Douglas Lain -- time travel
2) "Intellectual Property" by Mark Pexton -- corporate espionage; interesting, but relies on memory plug-in jacks that are too fantastic for my tastes of the moment
3) "Plucking Her Petals" by Sarah L. Edwards -- fantasy
4) "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise" by Sue Burke -- POV of an AI app that is apparently helping with some social difficulties
5) "Flock, Shoal, Herd" by James Bloomer -- people downloaded into animals

Oh well, maybe next time.