ecbatan (ecbatan) wrote,

Summary: Asimov's, 2009

Summary: Asimov's, 2009

Asimov's published 74 stories in 2009, very similar to recent years. 7 were novellas, 19 were novelettes, and 48 were short-stories (three of these short-shorts). This was about 643,000 words of short fiction, somewhat less than in recent years.


My favorite two novellas in 2009 in Asimov's were "Earth II" by Stephen Baxter (July) and "Broken Windchimes" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (September). "Earth II" is set on a planet colonized by refugees from a flooded Earth centuries earlier, and it concerns a woman leader on an expedition eventually exploring a mysterious relic of the planet's previous intelligent species, now long gone. "Broken Windchimes" tells of a male soprano performing for aliens, and what happens after he loses his position and discovers the blues. It was on the edge of being excessively manipulative, but it worked for me in the final analysis. My third favorite novella came from the February issue, Judith Berman's "Pelago", about the last survivor of a spacefaring family using her ability to interface with AIs to survive among her enemies. My main issue with it is that its part of a novel, and as such doesn't so much finish its story as stop.

So -- my Asimov's Award votes: 1) "Earth II", 2) "Broken Windchimes", 3) "Pelago".


As typical with Asimov's, there's quite a list of fine novelettes. One author impressed particularly: veteran Australian writer Damien Broderick returned to writing short fiction with a bang, with stories in several market, including four first rate novelettes in Asimov's. I liked two of these particularly: "This Wind Blowing, and This Tide" (April-May), about a man (mourning his dead son) who has come to Titan investigating a truly mysterious spaceship found there, complete with dinosaur-like alien; and "The Qualia Engine" (August), about a group of children of an experimental group of enhanced people, and about an invention that allows one to experience another's thoughts. Another writer with two first-rate novelettes was R. Garcia y Robertson, who published two very fun stories about one SinBad the Sand Sailor: "SinBad the Sand Sailor" (July) and "Wife-Stealing Time" (October-November), both set on a distant planet called Barsoom, well populated with the sort of creatures and people you might find on Barsoom, and both showing SinBad getting involved with sexy and smart "damsels in distress" who prove to be in not quite as much distress as he first thought, but who are still involved in adventures in which his help is much appreciated.

Other favorite novelettes: Holly Phillips's "The Long Cold Goodbye" (March), in which a city is forced to be evacuated due to cold, and a woman, about to leave, searches for one childhood friend among the ice. Mary Rosenblum's "Lion Walk" (January), about the investigation of people killed in a preserve for species recently gone extinct which have been reconstructed. Chris Willrich's "Sails the Marne", like "Lion Walk" an SF murder mystery, this one set on a spaceship crewed by humans and AIs transporting a bunch of aliens and the Book of Kells (!) to the outer Solar System -- theft and murder resulting. And Ted Kosmatka and Michael Poore's "Blood Dauber" (October-November) is a dark story about a zookeeper, struggling with his marriage and his finances, who gets involved with experiments with a very unusual species of wasp, and also with a dangerous ex-con working at the zoo.

There were also strong novelettes from Tom Purdom, Christopher Barzak, Brian Stableford, and Eileen Gunn and Michael Swanwick.

My Asimov's Award ballot will read, I think: 1) "This Wind Blowing, and This Tide", 2) "The Long Cold Goodbye", 3) "Wife-Stealing Time".

Short Stories

I liked Sara Genge's "As Women Fight" (December), which reminded me a bit of Eleanor Arnason, telling of a society in which couples swap gender (and bodies) every year or so. Also, "Bridesicle", by Will McIntosh, about a woman whose best chance to be revived from cold sleep is to agree to marry the man who will then pay for her unfreezing. It's complicated because she is a lesbian -- and for other reasons. James Patrick Kelly's annual June story was "Going Deep", about a young woman conditioned from birth to be a starship pilot, but who has a rebellious streak, and also issues with her mother. Steven Popkes's "Two Boys" (August) is a nice variant on the suddenly fashionable idea of resurrected Neanderthals. "Colliding Branes", by Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling, is a fun sexy story about bloggers and the end of the world. Nuff said.

Other fine stories came from Carol Emshwiller, Sara Genge again, new writer Benjamin Crowell, Robert Reed, new writer Ferret Steinmetz, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ian Creasey, Michael Cassutt, and Nick Wolven.

My ballot: 1) "As Women Fight", 2) "Bridesicle", 3) "Going Deep"

Things of Little Interest

The average novella was 24400 words, the average novelette 11600, and the average short story 5200 words: all consistent with previous years except that the short story average was rather high.

Of the 74 pieces of new short fiction, 24 were by women, about 32%. This is almost the same as last year (31%), and and as 2007, when 1/3 of the stories were by women (25 of 75). I caveat of course by noting that I might be wrong about a gender-neutral byline here or there (though I suspect not, in this case), and I might be ignorant of someone's pseudonym. I also estimate that 65 of 74 stories are SF, about 88%, compare to 95% and 90% the past two years.

Tags: 2009, magazines, yearly summaries
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