Friday, February 24, 2012

Dear Harvest 1-3 - Chris F. Holm

"Sorry – it’s nothing personal.

I wish I could tell you I have no idea how many times I’ve uttered that phrase. That I have no idea how many bodies I’ve left crumpled and inanimate in my wake. I wish I could tell you that, but I can’t.

The truth is, there’ve been thousands. Some, like Gardner, are so damn surprised, they never even see it coming. Some spend their lives in fear of the moment, and catch my scent a mile away; they beg, they plead, they scream. In the end, it doesn’t matter—I always get what I came for. And I remember each and every one of them. Every face. Every name."

3.5 out of 5

Asteroid Monte - Craig DeLancy

Herbivores are dangerously relentless.

3.5 out of 5

Gorilla My Dreams - David Brin

Uplift Benford Ickie Hijinks.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Word Balloon 108: The Rucka Debrief The Crime Bible Code - Greg Rucka

"In this edition of Word Balloon, host John Siuntres discusses 52 Aftermath, The Crime Bible with it's writer Greg Rucka . The miniseries continues the personal journey of the new Question, former Gotham City Detective Rene Montoya, but also focuses on the book , complete with text pages and illustrations from the crime bible itself. In an earlier article at Newsarama, we discovered a notebook The Question is using to assemble clues to locate the Crime Bible. Greg talks about the creation of these clues, and further locations to more viral info that enhances the story behind the book. "With all the events in comics it's easy to have missed this mini series, but Rucka and company are delivering a very fun DaVinci Code puzzle in the story, and these various artifacts and clues," says Siuntres. They also talk about Checkmate the DCU spy series , The future of his Queen and Country at Oni Press, and his latest novel, Patriot Acts, featuring Atticus Kodiak. Finally, Greg discusses his future, including the decision to end his exclusive contract with DC, but why he'll continue writing comics for the company."

4.5 out of 5

The Journal of John Murdock 2 - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

"With Overwatch in his ear, John Murdock reflects upon the events and circumstances that made him a wanted man."

and the fact that Vicki can dig up the dirt on him when she wants to.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Red Letter Day - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Future gun warning, no basketball.

3.5 out of 5

Forefather Figure - Charles Sheffield

Consciousness transfer.

3.5 out of 5

The Deimos Plague - Charles Sheffield

The Deimos Plague - Charles Sheffield
Beggar-priest pig ride not lousy, luckily.

3.5 out of 5

The Man Who Stole the Moon - Charles Sheffield

Agreement, with Lungfish crime.

3.5 out of 5

The Bee's Kiss - Charles Sheffield

Voyeur Sigil penetration testing.

4 out of 5

The Feynman Saltation - Charles Sheffield

Cancer brain paleo art.

3.5 out of 5

Why UFOs Are Actually Made of Bread and Other Little Known Facts - Walter Jon Williams

"Many people will see your name and have an image of a man who’s been comfortably self employed as an author for decades. Few know the real ups and downs of a career. I’m often amazed at what you manage to survive; it’s a real testament to your commitment and artistic versatility. Could you pick an event or two (or more even) from your career that challenged you and share them?

Walter designs the cover layouts for his backlist - now all available on Kindle. All the covers that follow were done by him.

I’m the only writer I know who has actually been blackmailed by an editor, who told me that he wouldn’t pay me for my novel unless I did another, very different project for him.

The whole story (and much else) can be found in an old blog post of mine.

I’ve also been told — by a major publisher, no less — that they would publish my book, but not pay me the agreed advance. Before the dust settled on that one, lawyers were involved"

3.5 out of 5

The Axiom of Choice - David W. Goldman

Trip back.

2.5 out of 5

The Paper Menagerie - Ken Liu

Lively folds a bit.

3 out of 5

Shipbirth - Aliette de Bodard

Bloodwar gender change Mind cripple.

3.5 out of 5

The Migratory Pattern Of Dancers - Katherine Sparrow

With bikes.

3 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Gregory Benford

"Do you have anything upcoming that you’d like to let our readers know about?

I’ve started revisiting some of my novels and getting them back from their original publishers. In 2011, I reissued in a new edition my longest novel, about cryonics as I’ve known it, Chiller. It’s updated and available in trade paperback and e-editions.

Next year, Larry Niven and I will publish the first of two volumes of a long novel, The Bowl of Heaven. It’s about what I call a Big Smart Object—a starship the size of a solar system, with all the physics worked out. But who would build such a thing . . "

3 out of 5

The Journal of John Murdock 1 - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

"With Overwatch in his ear, John Murdock reflects upon the events and circumstances that made him a wanted man."

3.5 out of 5

Vampirella - 8

Vampirella - 8

Triple problem car chase.

3.5 out of 5

For Those About to Rock 2 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

Vickie gets to talk to Djinni and Herb the Earth Elemental some more.

4 out of 5

For Those About to Rock 1 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

Vickie gets to be Overwatch for a Djinni solo mission. Insults ensue.

4 out of 5

Running On Empty - Mercedes Lackey and Veronica Giguere

Mercurye is stuck in Metis, where the inhabitants still hide, scared. So Nikola Tesla tells him.

3.5 out of 5

Night and Gold - Mercedes Lackey

The Seraphym actually intervenes to save a town, all flaming sword style.

4 out of 5

Aces and Eights - Mercedes Lackey and Veronica Giguere

Handsome Devil is called out to battle on a day when his luck is terminally bad.

4 out of 5

Nebula Awards Interview - Aliette de Bodard

"On that same post, you also comment on the utilitarian approach to telling stories. While you explain your point well there, I was wondering if you had any suggestions of speculative fiction authors that might be outside this narrative approach?

Oh, definitely! A lot of SF is actually not within this mold, but it’s advice that’s very commonly given, and very commonly embraced as well. I can think of several writers that fit the bill: Ian McDonald and Alastair Reynolds both create wonderful futuristic settings that make you feel you could live in them, rather than as if they’d been solely built for plot purposes. Kari Sperring’s Living With Ghosts is very much a paean to a city that you come to know intimately, with characters that all feel like they have their own lives outside of the story. And Maureen McHugh frequently does this–her China Mountain Zhang is a wonderful example of a setting that oozes with cool tidbits, from the kite races to the zen trance used to create architecture."

4 out of 5

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A History of the 20th Century with illustrations: Atonement - Ian Sales

Future Doctor Frankenstein, the monster.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, February 20, 2012

Once There Were Wolves - Kameron Hurley

Wolf Lady spared, unfortunately.

2 out of 5

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Oracles At the End of the World - Kameron Hurley

Barrel of witches, King for a while.

3 out of 5

Among the Silvering Herd - Alyx Dellamonica

Fleet Sloot.

3 out of 5

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Monkey - Ruth Nestvold

Crew part one.

3 out of 5

Cloudburst - Robert Reed

Monopoly storm.

3 out of 5

Worlds Like A Hundred Thousand Pearls - Aliette de Bodard

Old gate story end.

3 out of 5

Self Control - Sarah Matanah

Go back in time, tell yourself to stop smoking.

3.5 out of 5

A Trial of Blood and Steel Prequel - Joel Shepherd

Leyvan the fool's end.

3.5 out of 5

Skin Deep - Mary Rosenblum

Skin Deep - Mary Rosenblum
Filial facsimile repair choice declined.

4 out of 5

Friday, February 17, 2012

Genderbending At The Madhattered - Kameron Hurley

Painting forms.

3 out of 5

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wonder Maul Doll - Kameron Hurley

Tag and bag her.

3 out of 5

Scheduling Conflict - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Bank robbery question.

3 out of 5

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Holding Onto Ghosts - Kameron Hurley

All terrorists.

3.5 out of 5

Freehold - Michael Z. Williamson

A woman from the Earth military is wrongfully accused of a crime and flees to the libertarian utopia of Freehold. A higher gravity world with different customs it takes her some time to fit in as she adjusts. Losing the job she had because of financial cutbacks she joins the Free hold military and undergoes training.

This pleasant phase is brought to an end with the Earth government takes military action against the wealthy planet leading to horrors on both sides.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Guardian of Night 1-6 - Tony Daniel

"He’d take her to the full nine hundred times the speed of light, the limit of propulsion technology, the current speed limit of the known galaxy. Why not? He was the captain. He needed to experience how his vessel operated at maximum velocity.

Away from the Shiro, the enormous habitat that was the Administration’s governing hub. Away from the knotted heart of the Administration and its Regulation. Its parasitism. Its killing grip on his soul.

Ricimer turned his back to the stars and made his way to the vessel’s entrance hatch. Ricimer met the invisible barrier of the airlock’s quantum bottle and stepped through and into the craft’s atmosphere.

It was oxygen-based and similar to Earth’s mix, with helium taking the place of nitrogen. The pressure was considerably higher than Earth normal, however.

The phenol-laced ester of imperative and command swam into all their nostrils as Lieutenant-Commander Hadria Talid, Ricimer’s executive officer, made her customary announcement. “Captain on the bridge.”

The officers locked their knees and brought shoulders to attention. The rates could only acknowledge their captain’s presence by lowering their heads respectfully. Each was physically attached to a bulkhead, his or her hands plunged into individually marked stations. Ricimer and his species did not have fingers, but made do with a single flexible metacarpal palm curtained with gripping membranes that looked like the underside of a toadstool mushroom. The edges of the manual membranes were rimmed with nerves—nerves which provided direct access to the rate’s nervous systems for the Guardian of Night’s computers."

3.5 out of 5

You Cannot Fight the War for Reason: Wearing the Wrong Trousers - Aditja Bidikar

No middle age.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Art of Arrow Cutting 1 - Stephen Dedman

""Higuchi-san should be in his office, sir ... he was there when I left him." Nakatani's eyes bugged slightly as the cobra's hood swelled and seemed to become scaly. "Inagaki and Tsuchiya are watching him. You didn't say you wanted him brought to you--"

"I don't," Tamenaga grunted, and was silent for a moment. "Does the girl know what she has taken from us, Nakatani-san?"

Nakatani's gaze followed the tattoo as it wound its way to just below Tamenaga's wrist. "It seems barely possible, sir..."

"There are some people for whom anything is possible, Nakatani-san," said Tamenaga smoothly. The cobra lifted its head and stared straight at Nakatani.

"Was anything else stolen?" asked Tamenaga.

Nakatani stared back at the cobra. It flicked its tongue at him and its hood widened.

"Was anything else stolen?" repeated Tamenaga sharply.

Nakatani pulled himself together as best he could. "No, sir."

"You're certain?"

"Nothing else is missing," said Nakatani, not taking his eyes from the snake's. "Maybe some cash of Higuchi's, but he says no--"

"Then she knew what she was looking for, neh?" Tamenaga brooded. His son-in-law was probably telling the truth this time: Tamenaga doubted that he had the imagination to lie competently. Certainly he'd never been able to hide his infidelities from Haruko (who was Westernized enough to be irritated by them), let alone from Tamenaga.

"She may not be able to use it," Nakatani ventured."

3.5 out of 5

Hotel Transylvania 1 - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

"He was known as Le Comte de Saint-Germain, although he had had other names, but few in Paris would have recognized even the most illustrious of those names, for the glamorous court of Louis XV cared little for what happened beyond French borders, or before the Sun King had reigned.

There were parts of France, also, which the glittering court did not know, such as the squalid dark street down which Saint-Germain picked his way, his intense dark eyes turned to the task of searching out the piles of filth that filled the night with a smell that was almost palpable. Slums at night, Saint-Germain reflected as his long memories stirred, were the same the world over.

The gentle chuckle of running water was in his ears, and it annoyed him. It was like the sound of an insect, constantly buzzing, reminding him that the Seine was very near.

In the shadows, the red eyes of rats glared out at him, and the gibbering his passing caused made Saint-Germain bare his teeth in what might have been a smile. He had never learned to like rats, though he had often had to live close to them.

At the next crossing he stopped, uncertain of which way to go. No sign marked the alley leading crookedly away from the river. He stared into the dark, then turned down the narrow way. Above him the old buildings almost touched, leaning together, heavy with the weight of centuries. Stepping even more warily now, he trod the rough stones that served as paving.

Up ahead he saw a lantern shine, and he stepped back into the overhang of a doorway to wait for the Watchman to pass. He pursed his lips impatiently. There were ways he could slip by the Watchman unnoticed, but such doings were often inconvenient, and occasionally led to the kind of discovery he had come to loathe. At least a dozen times before in his long career an impulsive move on his part had exposed him to the full glare of public notoriety. So he waited."

3.5 out of 5

The Manitou 1 - Graham Masterton

"If you think it's an easy life being a mystic, you ought to try telling fifteen fortunes a day, at $25 a time, and then see whether you're quite so keen on it.

At the same moment that Karen Tandy was consulting Dr. Hughes and Dr. McEvoy at the Sisters of Jerusalem Hospital, I was giving old Mrs. Winconis a quick tour of her immediate prospects with the help of the Tarot cards.

We were sitting around the green baize table in my Tenth Avenue flat, with the drapes drawn tight and the incense smoldering suggestively in the corner, and my genuine simulated antique oil lamp casting pretty mysterious shadows. Mrs. Winconis was wrinkled and old and smelled of musty perfume and fox-fur coats, and she came around every Friday evening for a detailed rundown of the seven days ahead.

As I laid out the cards in the Celtic cross, she fidgeted and sniffed and peered across at me like a moth-eaten ermine scenting its prey. I knew she was dying to ask me what I saw, but I never gave any hints until the whole thing was set out on the table. The more suspense, the better. I had to go through the whole performance of frowning and sighing, and biting my lips, and making out that I was in communication with the powers from beyond. After all, that's what she paid her $25 for."

3 out of 5

Stranger Suns 1 - George Zebrowski

""Look," Malachi said, "the ripples measure to our predictions for a tachyon mass running into the detector."

Sweating, Juan leaned forward against his straps--but his hopes died. "The signal's coming straight up from the Antarctic." He took a deep breath and switched to the main view of Earth, leaving the blue eye as a bottom-right insert. "Damn Summet, he's got a project of some kind down there!" He looked up at Malachi, who was scratching up another cigarette. "We've gone to a lot of effort to prevent anything else from triggering our detector. It's got to be an experiment generating tachyons."

Malachi coughed and slipped his cigarette into a wall slot. "If it's tachyons."

"What else could it be?""

3.5 out of 5

When Gravity Fails 1 - George Alec Effinger

""My name is Bond," said the guy. "James Bond." As if there could be any doubt.

The two women looked frightened. "Oh, my God," one of them whispered.

My turn. I walked up behind the moddy and grabbed one of his wrists. I slipped my thumb over his thumbnail and forced it down and into his palm. He cried out in pain. "Come along, Double-oh-seven, old man." I murmured in his ear, "let's peddle it somewhere else." I escorted him to the door and gave him a hefty shove out into the muggy, rain-scented darkness.

The two women looked at me as if I were the Messiah returning with their personal salvations sealed in separate envelopes. "Thank you," said the one with the camera. She was speaking French. "I don't know what else to say except thanks."

"It's nothing," I said. "I don't like to see these people with their plug-in personality modules bothering anybody but another moddy."

The second woman looked bewildered. "A moddy, young man?" Like they didn't have them wherever she came from.

"Yeah. He's wearing a James Bond module. Thinks he's James Bond. He'll be pulling that trick all night, until someone raps him down and pops the moddy out of his head. That's what he deserves. He may be wearing Allah-only-knows-what daddies, too." I saw the bewildered look again, so I went on. "Daddy is what we call an add-on. A daddy gives you temporary knowledge. Say you chip in a Swedish-language daddy; then you understand Swedish until you pop it out. Shopkeepers, lawyers, and other con men all use daddies."

The two women blinked at me, as if they were still deciding if all that could be true. "Plugging right into the brain?" said the second woman. "That's horrifying."

"Where are you from?" I asked.

They glanced at each other. "The People's Republic of Lorraine," said the first woman.

That confirmed it: they probably had never seen a moddy-driven fool before. "If you ladies wouldn't mind a piece of advice," I said, "I really think you're in the wrong neighborhood. You're definitely in the wrong bar."

"Thank you, sir," said the second woman. They fluttered and squawked, scooping up their packages and bags, leaving behind their unfinished drinks, and hurried out the door. I hope they got out of the Budayeen all right."

4.5 out of 5

The Star Country 1 - Michael Cassutt

""I assume you've heard the news," she said.

"Yes," the alien rasped. "Very distressing."

Aware that they might be under surveillance, Lisa was forced into the ridiculous position of communicating with an extraterrestrial by means of an improvised code. "How are you feeling?" she asked, knowing that, physically, Harrek was fine "Are your greater knees still giving you trouble?"

"I still suffer," the alien replied.

Lisa could easily picture Harrek, hunched by the telephone in the penthouse several floors overhead, the room crammed with support equipment . . . and three other Hocq, including Big Bad Boroz. "Has the . . . uh, doctor given you any medication?"

"Not yet." There was a pause. "She wishes to continue the treatment."

Oh my God, he wants to go through with it! "is that even possible?"

"There is no choice."

Was he telling her that one of his sisters suspected? It was probably inevitable that their plan would leak. You couldn't keep a defection a secret forever--

"Maybe I can help you out. There's some special medication in cruiser three, down in the garage."

"I'll meet you there," Harrek said.

She took a deep breath and looked around the tacky hotel room. These were probably her final moments as a good citizen of Texas. "Ten minutes," she said.

"That will be satisfactory.""

3.5 out of 5

Reefsong 1 - Carol Severance

""Spit on the lines," she muttered. The darkness wasn't part of any night sky. It was smoke! There was a fire in Sector Five.

She strode to the control console at the center of the tower and keyed a system-wide alarm sequence.

"Fire Control," she said into the opened mike, "this is Central Forest Preserve. We have a primary alert in Sector Five. Repeat. Serious burn in Sector Five. Please order a full fire crew to the site stat. Put secondary lines on standby. I'm transmitting fire coordinates now."

She keyed in her visual estimates of the fire's location and dimensions, then focused the lookout tower's cameras on the site and activated a continual-update order. Her own estimates remained a steady orange glow at the top of the monitoring screen, showing that the computer-assisted camera system had verified them as accurate.

"Central Forest," the control watchman's voice drawled through the tower speaker; he sounded irritated, as if he'd rather not be disturbed. "Double-check your sighting and coordinates."

"They've been double-checked and more, Central," she said, a little sharply; she paused to steady her voice. "Please enter an immediate scramble order before this gets out of hand." The smoke had become a billowing silhouette against the rising sun.

"Scrambling a full crew's pretty costly, lady," the watchman said. "I'll need an okay from Warden Dinsman before I can proceed." She could almost hear his slow grin. He would be up for a bonus if he could talk her out of the full crew. The forest preserve ranked low on the Company's list of priority expenditures. The only reason they supported it at all was because of pressure from the U.N., and even that was waning with the continued food shortage. The watchman probably had orders to stall or even deny all but the most serious fire calls from the preserve."

3.5 out of 5

The Orpheus Machine 1 - Ray Aldridge

""We'll have to leave most of the dope," he said regretfully. But he swung one small satchel over his shoulder--perhaps it would be well to carry some form of trade goods.

Then he led the way down to the main deck. Molnekh and Nisa supported Dolmaero between them, and they only fell twice.

He made them wait in the shelter of a companionway while he crept out into the storm. To his great relief, he saw that the lifeboat still hung from its davits. The two crew members waited, their white faces swiveling back and forth inside the hoods of their jackets, as though they could not understand what was delaying the rest of the crew.

Ruiz hefted the splinter gun. It contained a minimum charge; he would have to spend its power frugally.

For some reason he felt a dangerous reluctance to act. The two had done him no harm. Perhaps he'd even played a few friendly hands of kanterip with them. But they stood between him and survival; what real choice did he have?

Ruiz sighed. He steadied his wrist against a pipe. He waited for the pause that came at the end of a roll, and then he put a splinter through both unsuspecting heads.

They dropped unnoticed in the chaos that filled the deck. Ruiz sprang forward and reached the bodies before they could roll to the rail. The two had been armed only with nerve whips, which were useless to Ruiz, but he stripped off their foul-weather gear. He waited for the rail to lift again, and then boosted the bodies over into the sea.

Under the companionway, he thrust the smaller man's garments at Molnekh. "Put these on." He donned the other set, then explained his plan. "Molnekh and I will pretend to be guards; Dolmaero and Nisa will board the boat and look like early-arriving crew. When the next group shows up, we'll take them with us. I'm no sailor; we'll need their expertise."

"Will we live through this?" asked Nisa.

He felt oddly cheerful, as if he had returned to familiar, comfortable terrain. "Why not?""

3.5 out of 5

The Genesis Quest 1 - Don Moffitt

"And the world changed, never to be the same again.

The first signals were detected almost at once. They were found mostly in the part of the spectrum between the hydrogen and hydroxyl radical lines, where theory had long predicted that water-based life would be apt to concentrate its communication efforts.

An excited assistant hurried up. "We're locked onto them now. There's remarkably little frequency drift. They're also utilizing the first harmonic of the hydrogen frequency."

He passed over a touch pad that was beating rhythmically with repeating data. The director pulsated with emotion. "The very first time!" he murmured to himself. "We've found them the very first time!"

He'd forgotten completely about his visitor, who was still sharing his thoughts through a patch of contact. A diffident query reached his consciousness: "Can you be sure?"

"Eh? Yes. It's unmistakable." He thrust the throbbing datapad at him. "Have a look at this. It's the first ten prime numbers -- counted out plainly in a steady rhythm and sitting in the middle of what looks like an ongoing message in binary code. That's to get our attention. It's their beacon. I'm willing to bet that it's repeated every few minutes.""

3.5 out of 5

Eon 1 - Greg Bear

"Gods and extraterrestrials. Still, she managed to nap.

When she awoke, she saw the Stone briefly as the OTV swung around for its docking maneuver. It looked much like the pictures she had seen many times before published in newspapers and magazines -- bean-shaped, about a third as wide in the middle as it was long, heavily cratered between the smoothly artificial excavated bands. Ninety-one kilometers in diameter at its widest, two hundred ninety-two kilometers long. Rock and nickel and iron and not nearly as simple as that.

"Approaching south polar axis," the blond said, leaning around in her chair to look back at Vasquez. "A little briefing, in case they haven't told you already. Blind leading the blind, honey." She glanced meaningfully at her shipmates. "First, some facts and figures important to mere navigators. Note that the Stone is rotating on its long axis. That's nothing surprising -- everyone knows that. But it's rotating once every seven minutes or so--"

"Every six point eight two four minutes," James or Jack corrected.

"That means," the blond continued, unfazed, "that anything loose on the outer surface will fly away at a pretty good clip, so we can't dock there. We have to go through the pole."

"There's stuff inside?" Patricia asked.

"Quite a lot of stuff, if they're keeping everything -- and everyone -- we've been bringing up in the past few years," James or Jack said.

"The Stone's albedo matches any of a number of siliceous asteroids. Apparently, that's what it was at one time. Here's the south pole now," Rita said.

In the middle of the large polar crater was an indentation -- judging from the scale of the Stone itself, quite tiny, no more than a kilometer deep and three or four kilometers wide.

The Stone's rotation was easily discernible. As the OTV matched course with the Stone, then began its approach along the axis, the crater enlarged and showed even more detail. With hardly any surprise at all, Patricia realized the floor was marked by shallow hexagons, like a beehive.

At the center of the indentation was a circular black spot about a hundred meters across. A hole. An entrance. It loomed larger and larger but lost none of its intense blackness."

4.5 out of 5

The Exile Kiss 1 - George Alec Effinger

"It never occurred to me that I might be kidnapped. There was no reason why it should. The day had certainly begun innocently enough. I'd snapped wide awake just before dawn, thanks to an experimental add-on I wear on my anterior brain implant. That plug is the one that gives me powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. As far as I know, I'm the only person around with two implants.

One of these special daddies blasts me into full consciousness at any hour I choose. I've learned to use it along with another daddy that supercharges my body to remove alcohol and drugs from my system at better than the normal rate. That way I don't wake up still drunk or damaged. Others have suffered in the past because of my hangovers, and I've sworn never to let that happen again.

I took a shower, trimmed my red beard, and dressed in an expensive, sand-colored gallebeya, with the white knit skullcap of my Algerian homeland on my head. I was hungry, and my slave, Kmuzu, normally prepared my meals, but I had a breakfast appointment with Friedlander Bey. That would be after the morning call to prayer, so I had about thirty minutes free. I crossed from the west wing of Friedlander Bey's great house to the east, and rapped on the door to my wife's apartment.

Indihar answered it wearing a white satin dressing gown I'd given her, her chestnut hair coiled tightly on the back of her head. Indihar's large, dark eyes narrowed. "I wish you good morning, husband," she said. She was not terrifically pleased to see me."

4 out of 5

Liege-Killer 1 - Christopher Hinz

The occupants of this freezer were gone, however. The pirates had found what they were looking for.

"There were two of them," Kelly said quietly. The pair of large plastic cradles in the center of the car was empty, the pale ivory cocoons missing. The genetically manufactured tissues that surrounded the sleepers would keep their metabolism stable for at least thirty hours--long enough for the Costeaus to get them to a Wake-up facility up in the Colonies.

Bronavitch felt even more disturbed than he had earlier. There were two of them. Jesus! Why couldn't there have been one ... or three ... or twenty-six?

Kelly walked past the cradles to the other end of the stasis chamber. He used his glove to wipe the frost from a pair of glass gauges.

"The other cars in the train must be tankers. This meter says there's enough fuel left to run the generators for another fifty years or so."

Bronavitch grimaced. "And why were there only two capsules? This car's big enough to hold a dozen and it wouldn't have taken much more fuel. Yet there were only two capsules."

Kelly turned from the gauges and looked straight at him. "There's probably a simple explanation. The capsules contain a husband and wife, I'll bet--somebody's great, great--whatever--grandparents." Kelly smiled like a three-year-old with a new toy. "Now, recently, some rich young kid up in the Colonies finds a family heirloom that tells how his wealthy ancestors put themselves into stasis during the final days. The heirloom explains where and how they were frozen and the kid thinks it would be just great if he could bring them out of hibernation. To do it legally, of course, you've got to get E-Tech's permission, and that means going through all sorts of official channels and maybe getting turned down after a year of fighting the red tape. So the rich kid figures he'll avoid all that hassle. He hires himself some Costeaus, gives them the map, and tells them they'll get a nice fat bonus if they succeed in waking up his ancestors."

"That doesn't answer my question, Kelly. If these were some rich husband and wife, why didn't they buy their way up to the Colonies? Or if they couldn't do that, then why not have ten other people frozen in here with them? They must have had some friends."

His partner smiled annoyingly. "Maybe they were a couple of greedy industrialists. You've read how crazy things were in the final days. People got selfish. They did just about anything to survive."

"Yeah, and it wasn't just people who did anything to survive."

Anger broke across Kelly's face. "Now I don't want to hear what you're thinking! They were wiped out--nobody's seen one in two centuries. They're gone--long dead. Now if you go spouting your thoughts back at base, E-Tech's gonna go into a mild panic--all for nothing, I might add. And you and I are gonna spend the next two weeks down in this tunnel, searching for clues so that some E-Tech exec can get his official report made up and shoved into the archives. All for nothing, dammit!"

4.5 out of 5

Empress of Light 1 - James C. Glass

"She wondered if Mandughai was watching her, then dismissed the thought. First Mother would be busy now with the return of her troops to Tengri-Nayon. Perhaps they'd already arrived there. Nearing sleep, mostly through the habit of years, Kati felt the urge to go to the gong-shi-jie, the place of creation, to wander among the auras of planets and stars, to feel the swirling energies of the purple light there which moved at her command. She suppressed the urge, for if she went now to the gong-shi-jie, Yesui might follow her, and the last time had seemed traumatic for the child. Kati was still haunted by the events of their return: the black, snake-like energy field writhing behind the green flame that was surely Yesui, the terrible explosion above Three Peaks turning rock into colorful glass, then Yesui kicking furiously in terror within her mother's body."

3 out of 5

Kirlian Quest Prologue - Piers Anthony

"The astronomer formed a second eye and contemplated a holograph of the Amoeba. It appeared to have a number of projecting pseudopods, each curving slightly; this was what had given it its name. Overall it was amazingly regular; the pseudopods seemed individual and evenly spaced.

Its discovery had been largely serendipitous, a result of the Cluster survey program instituted after the Second War of Energy. After twice narrowly averting destruction of their galaxy, the coalition of species of the Milky Way intended to keep fully informed of all future developments in the Cluster. The most powerful Segments--Qaval, Etamin, Knyfh, Lodo, and Weew--had pooled their resources and manufactured the largest fleet of spaceships ever known: 125 billion strong. But they were very small ships, any one of which an average-sized sapient could have lifted in a single appendage without effort. Each contained perceptive apparatus, mainly optical, and a tiny molecule mattermitter. They were dispersed around the entire outer surface of the Cluster, accelerating to one-tenth the speed of light and then drifting outward until they were, theoretically at least, eventually recovered by the gravity of the Cluster. Every ten years each unit mattermitted back what was visible from its quota of space. Each ship was about ten light-years from its neighbors, and so was responsible for a surface area of a hundred light-years; its report was normally current within about seven years. Thus no major intrusion into the Cluster could escape detection; the Net would report it long before the light reached the nearest galaxy.

The Net had been in operation for almost a thousand years. As the fear of alien intrusion had abated, the main beneficiaries of this expensive program had been the astronomers and stellar cartographers. The entire Cluster had been mapped with phenomenal accuracy, retroactively. For the Net reported what it saw, and it saw what the Cluster had looked like up to a million years before, because of the time it had taken the plodding light of distant stars to travel."

3.5 out of 5

A Fire In the Sun 1 - George Alec Effinger

"Saied is a natural-born liar, and it's a pleasure to watch him hustle. He had the personality module he liked best plugged into his brain--his heavy-duty, steel-belted, mean mother of a tough-guy moddy. Nobody messed with the Half-Hajj when he was chipping that one in.

Back home in the city, Saied thought it was beneath him to earn money. He liked to sit in the cafes with me and Mahmoud and Jacques, all day and all evening. His little chicken, the American boy everybody called Abdul-Hassan, went out with older men and brought home the rent money. Saied liked to sneer a lot and wear his gallebeya cinched with a wide black leather belt, which was decorated with shiny chrome-steel strips and studs. The Half-Hajj was always careful of his appearance.

What he was doing in this vermin-infested roadside slum was what he called fun. I waited a few minutes and followed him around the corner and into the coffeehouse. I shuffled in, unkempt, filthy, and took a chair in a shadowy corner. The proprietor glanced at me, frowned, and turned back to Saied. Nobody ever paid any attention to me. Saied was finishing the tail end of a joke I'd heard him tell a dozen times since we'd left the city. When he came to the payoff, the shopkeeper and the four other men at the long counter burst into laughter. They liked Saied. He could make people like him whenever he wanted. That talent was programmed into an add-on chip snapped into his bad-ass moddy. With the right moddy and the right daddy chips, it didn't matter where you'd been born or how you'd been raised. You could fit in with any sort of people, you could speak any language, you could handle yourself in any situation. The information was fed directly into your short-term memory. You could literally become another person, Ramses II or Buck Rogers in the 25th century, until you popped the moddy and daddies out."

4 out of 5

A Whisper of Time 1 - Paula Downing King

"Dr. McGill laughed and pressed Ian's hand, then led them into the apartment foyer. A babble of voices issued from the room beyond as glasses clinked and Dr. McGill's guests talked a combination of gossip and shop. On Ariadan, with a population of scientists obsessed with the mystery of the Targethi ruins, one could go anywhere and overhear voices in affable argument about glyphs, technic structure, and xenobiology. Medoret recognized representatives of all the major Cebalrai teams in the room: Metals, Urban Map, BioSurvey, and Glyphs. She had met a few of Dr. Ruth's guests now and then, seen fax-photos of several others in article bios.

For fifteen years, first at the smaller Targethi mining outpost at 70 Ophiuchi, the first ruins discovered by the Ariadan probes, and then at the larger ruins at Cebalrai, the scientists of Earth had plunged into the exploration of an alien culture, the first and only alien culture -- save Medoret herself, of course, in all her different mysteries. Though the Earth legislature debated the expense every year, sometimes in rancorous dispute with the other colony governments who had their own agendas, every year the Project got what it asked for in ships and support and money, with a suitable smaller largesse for an archaeological subproject named Medoret Douglas. She and Ian lived well, as did Dr. Sieyes. She glimpsed Dr. Sieyes's portly figure in the far corner of the next room. He was laughing jovially with a group of admiring friends, gesturing with the drink in his hand as he told his story. She winced and looked back longingly at the door."

3 out of 5

Fallway 1 - Paula Downing King

"In Rhesaa star-system, a binding of twelve stars dominated by a great blue-white star, Quevi'ali's four kin-alliances, called iruta in Avelle speech, sought a refuge to repair their ship and to rebuild their breeding numbers, not only for Quevi'ali but for a daughter-ship; doubling their strength for the return to the Predator wars. On a large asteroid circling a lesser companion of the blue-white star, Quevi'ali had concealed itself beneath naked rock and begun a great building of a subterranean City. For decades, then centuries, the Avelle brooding grew steadily, the original four iruta fracturing into a dozen new bondings, each building its own great tier of two hundred levels, expanding outward and downward into the rocky depths, tempering their strength in tier wars for territory and influence. Yet the Avelle of Quevi Ltir did not rebuild their ship nor begin their daughter ship; instead, they lingered in their City past all accounting, until even the Avelle servant classes, conditioned by gene and rank never to question their superiors, wondered why the Song of Returning seemed forgotten.

For five centuries Quevi'ali had lain in its subterranean cavern, a dark hulk rarely visited. The Star Leader, hereditary captain of Quevi'ali and the Principal vested with the charge of its rebuilding, found other reason in the City for other affairs, without explanation. Among the six Principals who ruled Quevi Ltir, the Principals of Law and Song rose to new influence, supplanting the primacy of the Star Leader, and contested with each other, deftly building shifting alliances with Mind and Battle and Science, never trusting the other, growing crafty and wise as they subordinated lesser kin-alliances to their purposes. The tier wars grew dangerous and more frequent as the Principals contested, threatening extinguishment of whole tiers and the ending of brood-lines, but still the Avelle did not rebuild their ships."

3.5 out of 5

Siduri's Net 1 - Paula Downing King

"High above Epsilon Tauri's star-system, Siduri's Net and her senior cloudship, Siduri's Dance, sailed against the luminescent clouds of a comet's tail, their magnetic sails spread wide to gather a rich harvest. For six weeks Net and Dance had sailed the comet's tail, pacing the comet's blazing descent toward the local sun. With each new course into the tail, they had filled their holds, returned briefly to open space to sort their catch of power isotopes, then plunged again into the glowing tail. Two more courses, another several days, and, their holds filled with rare product, the two cloudships would turn out-system toward Tania's Ring, the Tauri world which held their contract for tritium fuel and unusual ices, atomic treasures that fueled Tania's newborn colony economy.

I should come out here more often, Pov thought wistfully, as he always did when he had the chance to watch Net from outboard. In design, his cloudship vaguely resembled the older wind-driven ships, but suggested other analogues in the large triangular prow that housed the control decks, the wide wings of the forward hull that powered the collecting sails, and the jumble of spheres and suspended bridges aft where Net's crew of three hundred lived, worked, and played."

3 out of 5

Maia's Veill 1 - Paula Downing King

"The morning after Siduri's Net returned to Tania's Ring and docked at Omsk Station, Pov Janusz and Athena Mikelos, Net's pilotmaster, stood in front of a viewing window high on Net's prow, watching the repairs to Siduri's Dance in the docking bay nearby. During Net's three-week absence at T Tauri, Omsk Station had replaced several of the senior cloudship's hull plates and had removed the damaged sail assembly, nothing more. Still crippled, Dance drifted idly at her mooring, with a single Omsk repair jitney hovering above her.

"Captain Rybak's first words," Pov said, "were, I quote, 'God, you took long enough, Net.' Then he berated Captain Andreos about this and that, sputtered himself into a total rage, and clicked off before Andreos even got a word in."

Athena grimaced and shook her dark curls. "Why am I not surprised? We took a long time, he says. Maybe next year, at this rate, Dance might be spaceworthy again." She turned away from the window and sighed."

3 out of 5

Rinn's Star 1 - Paula Downing King

"His name was Isen-glov-amar, son to the chief of the Lily People, destined to be chief in his own right. Long-bodied, multilegged, yellow-skinned, the young warrior prowled the perimeter of the clearing, his unease about the tall bulking Devil-house lessening with familiarity. He kept the house in his side vision, his second brain studying it carefully while his first gave commands to his warriors and listened for the death-cry from the swamp. It had been a clean attack, Isen-glov-amar's first leading, and his third brain felt the pleasure of anticipation. There would be a procession through the coraal of his village, a dance to celebrate his victory, and then the ancient ceremony of strength-for-strength. He glanced over at the bodies near the edge of the clearing: enough to give all his warriors their portion of the curious flesh that made up the Star-Devils' brains.

His snout lifted as a cry echoed in the distance, followed by the muffled hooting of a victorious kill. Isen-glov-amar's neck fur ruffled in response, his third brain responding automatically to the passion of the hunt. But he repressed his urge to follow the chase and continued pacing the clearing, his eyes watching both the Devil-house and the swamp surrounding it.

The door to the ship still gaped open, half-concealing the bulk of the warrior he had posted to guard it. Isen-glov-amar paused, considering. He counted eight bodies at the side of the clearing, and he knew that two more Devils had escaped into the swamp. He wondered if more Devils lurked within, despite the previous search. He would see for himself."

3.5 out of 5

Flare Star Prologue - Paula Downing King

"In the twelfth year of the Wolf colony, a ten-thousand-year cycle completed itself deep in the star's ruby heart. The star stirred uneasily as convection cells lifted high-energy plasma to the formerly impenetrable barrier between interior and surface and pressed for release. As Wolf rotated on her axis, the differential rotation at equator and poles wrapped her magnetic lines into a bewildering confusion, winding Wolf like a top. Starspots, the visible mark of a star's magnetic stress, darkened her ruddy face and spread inexorably from the equator toward the poles. The decompressing flare, inhibited by the rising plasma, became dangerously delayed.

After ten thousand years, a cycle had ended. Deep within Wolf, her forces began building, shuddering upward through the gas layers, rousing the sleeper..."

3.5 out of 5

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Speed Dating with the Dead 1 - Scott Nicholson

"The room’s angles, like those of the rest of the inn, were off by two or three degrees in every joint. Sagging floors and ceiling joists, warped window casings, and uneven spaces between cracks in the crown molding projected a sense of decay and despair.

The unease came from an expectation of order, and the skewed geometry made a distinct impact on the brain. It added a pressure that caused skin to tingle and lungs to stutter, all tricks the mind played on the body. Combined with the out-of-whack wiring that scrambled the electrical signals of the brain, the structure made a wonderful laboratory for the living.

And a fun playground for the dead.

Violet reset the clock while Wayne examined the size of the room, calculating how many hunters the place would hold. He could have booked the room in private, set up some gear, and conducted his own private little tea party, but hosting a paranormal conference gave the necromancy the sheen of respectability. Plus it offered the fringe benefit of not facing his demons alone."

4 out of 5

Into The Depths Of Illuminated Seas - Jason Sanford

Death skin, Sahr.

3.5 out of 5

One of Our Bastards Is Missing - Paul Cornell

One Of Our Bastards Is Missing - Paul Cornell
Queenfold deception Balance rescue.

4.5 out of 5

Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom - 1

Warlord of Mars - Fall of Barsoom 1

Banishing the other races, not much air left, a new color of people going for Thark and one red one left alive.

3.5 out of 5

Friday, February 10, 2012

Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris - 1 Colossus of Mars 1

Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris - 1 Colossus of Mars 1

Helium takeovers, Princess, and a big guy.

4 out of 5

The Death and Return of Superman - Max Landis

A parody commentary.

4 out of 5

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Boneless One - Alec Nevala-Lee

Octopus killer filter.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Brainbox - Christian Cantrell

Neurological brain tissue culture treasure exposure.

3.5 out of 5

Spirit Guides - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Spirit Guides - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Death reversal power.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Kiss Me Twice - Mary Robinette Kowal

Is that an AI in your peripheral vision, or are you just happy to see me?

And try not to get shot by the teacart.

4 out of 5

The Cold Step Beyond - Ian R. MacLeod

Warrior Bess chops pretend Elli.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, February 06, 2012

If Women Do Fall They Lie - Kameron Hurley

Vessels to Kell.

3.5 out of 5

Combined Free SF Reader and Not Free SF Reader List By Author updated

Combined Free SF Reader and Not Free SF Reader List By Author updated :-

For January 2012

Free SF Reader List Updated

For January 2012

Note changes :

Free SF Reader List updated :-

Not Free SF Reader List updated : -

Bring Me The Head Of Anne Boleyn - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Queen ring.

3 out of 5

Human Legacy Project - Christian Cantrell

Archive everything, human bombs and space it, too.

4 out of 5

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Marconi Matti Maxwell - Charles Sheffield

Link Transfer work.

3.5 out of 5

Fixed Price War - Charles Sheffield

Military contracting advancement.

3.5 out of 5

What Song the Sirens Sang - Charles Sheffield

Communication genius assassination.

3.5 out of 5

Brother To Dragons 1-5 - Charles Sheffield

""Little boy," she said softly. "You're so tiny, and so frail."

"That's not the worst." Brisbane waved his pen at the display. "See, that's what I was afraid of."

Weight at the fifth percentile for full-term delivery. The computer was integrating the reports made by the doctor with prior information on the mother and its own telemetry data of the child's condition. Length at the tenth percentile. X-rays reveal ribcage defects, malformation of jaw and dental structures, incomplete development of lungs. Liver, heart, and kidney abnormalities. Diminished retinal sensitivity. Prenatal cocaine addiction symptoms. Immediate postnatal survival probability, nine percent. Long-term survival probability, two percent. Mammal life expectancy, thirty-one years plus or minus three years.

"He's a total mess." The excitement of life snatched from death had died away. She was exhausted, reaction was setting in, and she was close to tears. A thousand healthy births could not take away the pain of a single sick baby. "You say you give me credit for this one—credit for what? He's ailing and weak, and doomed at birth. If everything went perfectly, he'd not live much past thirty."

"Christ was dead at thirty-three. So was Alexander the Great. How much more do you want him to do in the world?"

Still she was not listening. "Why do we do it?—drag the poor babies into the world, fight to save them, breathe life in them, operate on them—when even before we start we know they can't live a normal life, maybe can't live for an hour. Why do we bother?"

"You're tired out, Eileen." He took her gently by the arm. "We're not gods. Just medics. It's our job to save lives. That's all we can do, all we ought to do.""

4 out of 5

Dark As Day 1-7 - Charles Sheffield

"The Great War was over. It ended four months after it began, when the leaders of the Belt—crushed, humiliated, drained, and defenseless—agreed to an unconditional surrender.

And yet the Great War did not end. It could not end. It had swept like a gigantic storm across the face of the solar system, and like any storm it left behind its own trail of destruction, invisible eddies of unspent energy, whirlpools of hatred, and cluttered heaps of flotsam: people, weapons, and secret knowledge thrown together and abandoned.

Mars was not aware of the fact, but although hard-hit it had been doubly blessed. True, over half of its people had died. But life could still continue far below the surface, and the same infernal forces that swept clear the northern hemisphere had set in motion the melting of the permafrost. Two thousand years later, humans would walk unaided on the surface and breathe the clear Mars air.

But that was far off, in a remote and unimaginable future. Today a gummy slick of microphages covered the land from equator to poles, waiting for anything with a GACT sequence that invited disassembly.

Night fell, for the seven hundred and fiftieth time since the end of the Great War. The stars came out, bright and steady in the black sky. Phobos raced across the heavens, west to east. The purblind phages were unaware of its presence, or of the rising of Jupiter and Saturn.

But others on Mars knew. Three hundred kilometers from the barren equator, in the dead center of a low, flat valley, a ten-meter circle of surface released into the thin air a mist of chemicals. Any GACT or GACU form would have died within milliseconds. The disassemblers were made of sterner stuff, but they knew enough to recognize danger. A wave of microphages surged backward, clearing an annulus of bare gray scree around the misted ring. Those disassembler phages unlucky enough to be caught within the ring writhed, retreated toward the middle, and withered to a small heap of desiccated powder.

A puff of warmer air from below dispersed their dust. In the center of the ring a black dot had appeared. The dot widened into a dark open disk, through which a flat circular platform slowly rose. The microphages retreated farther, recoiling from the blown spray at the platform’s perimeter.

Two suited figures stood at the center of the platform. The woman was holding the hand of the little boy, and pointing upward. He was about four years old, and showed far more interest in the writhing circle of microphages and the bleak landscape beyond than in the starry sky.

“Do you see it?” The woman’s voice was wheezing and husky, and her back was oddly twisted. She shook the child’s hand impatiently. “You’re looking the wrong way. Over there. The brightest one.”

The boy was tall for his age, and sturdily built. He followed her pointing arm to the place where rising Jupiter hung above the eastern horizon. Dark eyes gleamed behind the suit’s visor, but his scowl was invisible in the dim light. “It’s not big. You said it would be big.”

“Jupiter is big. Huge. A lot bigger than this whole world. It only looks small because it’s so far away.”

“I could squash it in my fingers, it’s so little. It can’t hurt us.”

“It did hurt us. Jupiter looks tiny, but it’s really so big there are whole worlds, worlds nearly as big as this one, that circle around it. The people who live on them started the war. They were monsters. They killed your mother and father, and they killed your baby sister. They would have killed us, too, if we had stayed in the Belt. They are the reason we have to hide away here.”

It was an oft-told story, but the boy stared at Jupiter with greater interest. “I don’t see the other worlds at all.”

“They are there, just so far away you can’t see them. You’ve heard their names often. Ganymede, and Europa, and old Callisto.”

“And smoky smirky Io. You missed one. In the Gali-lo song there are four.”

“You’re right. And there really are four. But nobody lives on Io.”

“Why not? Does it have lots of these?” The boy’s arm waved toward the ring of microphages, standing like the curled lip of a breaking wave just beyond the protective spray.

“No. Io has lightning and burning hot and other bad things. Nobody can live there. You wouldn’t want to go there.”

“If Jupiter is so big, I’d like to live there.”

“You can’t do that, either. Jupiter is too big. It would crush you flat.”

“I bet it wouldn’t crush me. I’m strong. I’m stronger than you.”"

4 out of 5

The Ganymede Club 1-6 - Charles Sheffield

"Jason's question seemed unnecessary now. He had to ask it, anyway: "Is she dead?"

"I'm afraid she is." Simone Munzer had been standing next to Jing-li, and now she turned to him. He was glad to see that there was no trace of "I told you so" in her manner. "I'm sorry, Jason."

"But it's most peculiar," added Polk. The physician was bending low, peering at Athene's face. "Dead and already cooling. Yet it doesn't seem like a case of asphyxiation, which is what the suit punctures would suggest. Fascinating. Did you see anything strange, Cayuga, while you were in the interior?"

It had all happened too quickly, and Jason had been totally focused on what had to be done to rescue Athene. He shook his head.

"Of course, it may have nothing to do with her visit to Helene." Polk began to release the wrist seals on Athene's suit.

"We must prove that, one way or the other." Simone Munzer turned to Jing-li. "It's not like a normal ship fatality, where the body can go into sealed storage and await investigation until our return to Earth orbit."

"I agree." Jing-li's face was grim. The warning from the ship's anomalist—that Athene Rios should not explore the interior of Helene—was already in the ship's record. The official investigation would be unpleasant for Captain Betty Jing-li. "Dr. Polk, please prepare for and proceed with an autopsy."

"Already getting ready for it." The physician, unlocking Athene's ankle seals, seemed fully awake and enjoying himself for the first time in months. "But I'll need an assistant."

Athene had been his designated backup for medical emergencies.

"Of course." Jing-li turned to Luke Costas. "We will follow the usual—"

"If you please," Jason cut in. "I would like to help."

You interrupted a captain's order at your own peril, and Jason knew it. But Jing-li merely stepped closer, studied his face, and nodded.

"Very well. I understand. The autopsy will not be pleasant, they never are. If you have problems handling it—or yourself—tell me and I will arrange relief. Dr. Polk, please proceed. Dr. Munzer, I need to meet separately with you."

At her nod, Luke Costas turned and left the room. Jing-li and Simone Munzer followed, while Polk dispassionately watched them go.

"Wouldn't mind hearing that conversation," he said."

4 out of 5

Cold As Ice 1-6 - Charles Sheffield

"To the colonists and explorers creeping outward past the Belt in the third decade of the twenty-first century, Ganymede was the plum of the Jovian system. The largest of Jupiter's four Galileian satellites, it was also the biggest moon in the solar system, planet-sized with its radius of 2650 kilometers. There was plenty of Ganymede real estate to explore, shape, and develop.

Ganymede's low density offered a gravity only one-seventh that of Earth's, a factor most appealing to the low-gee Belters. And, finally, Ganymede had volatiles in abundance; ammonia and methane and—most precious of all—water. Half of Ganymede was fresh water and water-ice, the latter covering almost all of the frigid, cracked surface. A human wandering in a suit could split off a chunk of ice, thaw it, and safely drink the slightly sulfurous result.

There was only one snag. Jupiter loomed in the sky, a million kilometers away. Jupiter pluvius: Jupiter, the bringer of rain. But this rain was no cooling balm from heaven. It was an endless sleet of high-energy protons, gathered from the solar wind, accelerated by the demon of Jupiter's magnetic field, and delivered as a murderous hail into Ganymede's frozen surface. A human wanderer, garbed in a suit offering ample protection on Moon or Mars, would cook and die on Ganymede in a few hours.

The colonists had taken the problem in their stride. After all, the proton rain was far worse on little watery Europa, closer to Jupiter and visible in Ganymede's sky as a disk half the size again of Earth's moon. It was worse yet on sulfur-spitting Io, innermost of the four Galileian satellites.

Ganymede would do nicely. The whole solid interior of the moon was available and safe; all it needed was a little work. A handful of Von Neumanns in the form of tunneling robots was developed, dropped off, and left to replicate and do their thing for a few years, while the humans went away and redesigned their suits."

4 out of 5

Four Legs In the Morning - Norman Prentiss

Sphinx, Sibley.

3 out of 5

Farmer One - Christian Cantrell

Martian race, Sarek.

3 out of 5

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Skull Ring 1 - Scott Nicholson

"It owned her.

Maybe it—the fear, the darkness, The Creep—wouldn't take her this morning, but she knew it was out there.

No, not out there. In here.

In her head.

The worst place of all. This was an inside job all the way. The monster rummaged in the rooms of her mind, hid in cramped closets, staked out the shadowed corners of her psyche. What scared her most was the knowledge that she had built that monster herself, bit by bit, sewn it from scraps of memory and the threads of what-if, imagined it to life. The cellar of her head-house was a Frankenstein laboratory for bringing strange creatures to life."

3.5 out of 5

Interview: The Lifecycle of Software Objects - Ted Chiang

"Peter Orullian: Let’s get underway by having you give us a snapshot of your work to set the stage for our conversation: genres you write in, recognitions, etc., publishing vitals, if you will.

Ted Chiang: I write science fiction short stories. I have a collection of my stories, STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS, published by Small Beer Press, and I recently had a novella, THE LIFECYCLE OF SOFTWARE OBJECTS, published as a standalone volume by Subterranean Press. As for recognitions, I guess you mean awards? My work has won four Nebulas, four Hugos, and four Locus awards."

4 out of 5

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Venom - Christian Cantrell

Human Legacy Project and Democracy Device protection.

3.5 out of 5

The Silver Wind - Nina Allan

Yet another alternate nasty London.

3 out of 5

The Copenhagen Interpretation - Paul Cornell

Fake alien Balance tampering ship story. Fake woman too. Most likely.

3.5 out of 5

Of Dawn - Al Robertson

Music find.

2.5 out of 5

Killer 1-7 - David Drake and Karl Edward Wagner

""You've got some sort of wild man!" Lycon blurted with first glance.

"Nonsense!" Vonones snorted. "Look at the tiny scales, those talons! There may be a race somewhere with blue skin, but this thing's no more human than a mandrill is. The Numidians called it a lizard-ape in their tongue—a sauropithecus."

After that first startled impression, Lycon had to agree. The thing seemed far less human than any large ape, which it somewhat resembled. Probably those hairless limbs had made him think it was a man—that and the aura of malign intelligence its stare conveyed. But the collector had never seen anything like it, not in twenty years of professional hunting along the fringes of the known world.

Lizard-ape, or sauropithecus to render the word into Latin, seemed as good a name as any for the beast. Lycon could not even decide whether it was mammal or reptile, nor even guess its sex. It was scaled and exuded an acrid reptilian scent, but its movements and poise were feline. Ape-like, it walked erect in a forward crouch, and its long forelimbs seemed adapted for gripping and climbing. It would be about man-height if it straightened fully, and Lycon estimated its lean weight close to that of a big leopard. Its face was cat-like, low-browed and triangular of jaw. A wedge-shaped, earless skull thrust forward upon a snaky neck, and it had no more nostrils than a lizard did. Its eyes looked straight forward with human intensity, but were slit-pupiled and showed a swift nictitating membrane.

"This came from the Aures Mountains?" Lycon questioned wonderingly.

"It did. There was a big lot of gazelles and elephants that one of my agents jobbed from the Numidians. This thing came with them, and all I know about it is what Dama wrote me when he sent the shipment: that a band of Numidians saw a hilltop explode and found this animal when they went to see what had happened."

"A hilltop exploded!"

The dealer shrugged. "That's all he wrote."

Lycon studied the cage in silence.

"Why did you weld the cage shut instead of putting a chain and lock on it?"

"That's the way it came," Vonones explained. "I'll have to knock the door loose and put a proper lock on it before sending it off tomorrow, or those idiots at Rome will wreck a good cage trying to smash it open, and never a denarius for the damage. I guess the Numidians just didn't have a lock—I'm a little surprised they even had an iron cage."

Lycon frowned, uncomfortable at the way the beast stared back at him. "It's its eyes," he reflected. "I wish all my crew looked that bright.""

4 out of 5

Anansi Island - Christian Cantrell

Spiders, millions of them - and hybrid experiments to escape. Maybe.

3.5 out of 5