Friday, January 18, 2008

Jim Baen's Universe, Dec. 2007

Here is a brief review of the last Universe, though I haven't read all the stories yet.
Laws of Survival by Nancy Kress
This was a great story of a woman struggling to survive in a post holocaust world. She gets picked up by an alien robot with a strange fixation on dogs. I was hooked in right away and then the story just became more and more compelling. There is a lot to learn from here. Spot on first person narration, expert weaving of the woman's personal struggles with her current conflicts. Lots of action with backstory and memories woven in without bogging things down. This was worth the price of my subscription. I wrote to Steve Eley at Escape Pod to suggest this story. It practically reads itself.

The other stories I've read so far from this issue were in the Fantasy Stories section.

Fossilized Gods by J. Simon
This was a fun story with multiple points of view, a neat take on gods and their power, and lots of references to great fantasy writers like Lovecraft and Zelazny. It brought to my attention a novel of Zelazny's that I had never heard of A Night In The Lonesome October. *bonk* Got to find that. Anyway, this was a good read.

Second Banana by Way Jeng
I think Way Jeng is a member of the OWW so that is really cool that s/he got a story in Universe. This is a very quick, flashy science fiction story (in the fantasy section!) about a sabateur and his pilot. They are trying to disable a warship. The action was great and the interaction between the two characters was well done, in so far as it went. I'm all for short stories, but this one felt too short to me. I could have used more information about the setting as well as about the two characters and their relationship. Fun but not entirely satisfying.

The Art of Memory by Barry N. Malzberg and Jack Dann
This was a trippy story about a man who dies in a car wreck and lingers as a ghost. It was poignant, especially when he goes home and sees his wife. The story was very frank in the way it dealt with his sexual feelings for his wife. It reminded me of the film Jacob's Ladder, in a very oblique way. I read it as his dying dreams, but that doesn't really fit all the elements of the story. Wistful, strange, sad.
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