Wednesday, January 2, 2013

F&SF Nov 2012: the Long Pieces

For my Christmas break, I saved the November edition of F&SF as well as the December edition of Lightspeed. After holding myself back from reading them, I did find them somewhat disappointing. In the case of F&SF, this was driven primarily by how many of the stories were part of an ongoing series. I do not enjoy short fiction series. Give me a novel or a stand-alone.

 by Robert Reed (Novella)
An unusual guide and an unusual tourist tackle the long trek at the heart of "the Great Ship". I did enjoy this story, though I always struggle with hard science fiction which is often so immersed in "otherness". That's one of the reasons I enjoy short fiction as I don't know if I've ever been able to read an entire hard science fiction book (scratch that as I think Ben Bova's Jupiter probably qualifies).

High Stakes by Naomi Kritzer (Novelet)
This story is part of a series on a teenager growing up on a series of ships in a libertarian experiment to escape the state. Despite being part of a series, I would recommend it as I think this story has very interesting themes shaped around an intriguing plot where the young protagonist becomes an assistant to the producer of a reality TV series set in this libertarian playground. I would prefer to read Rebecca's stories compiled into a single, seamless novel but I will take the stories in the mean-time.

In this year's F&SF's, there were two stories set in this setting as well as a stand-alone story called Scrap Dragon by Naomi Kritzer, all of which I enjoyed.

The Problem of the Elusive Cracksman by Ron Goulart (Novelet)
Another installment in the adventures of Harry Challenge, a private investigator that reminds me of Sherlock Holmes, despite being American. While this series of stories is readable, they do irritate me. There are formulaic and I would prefer if F&SF didn't waste space on them.

Heaventide by KJ Kabza (Novelet)
Daybreak-under-Clouds desperately wants to be a Traveler and explore the world, but Traveling is for males and Daybreak-under-Clouds has already been confined to the world of womanhood. This story seeks to portray a world in which gender roles and physical sex have been utterly separated - and what is interesting is that the world seems to be more confining, instead of less. While this is an interesting angle, it felt like the story was too short-lived to really explore the underlying ideas.

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