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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

December 31, 2005

Enjoy new fiction - get a subscription

While we were away in France, I caught up on my Asimov's reading.

I subscribed, I think, around this time last year, when the dorrar was very weak against the pound, but it took ages for my first issue to come through (I think it was the April/May double issue). I may even have subscribed considerably before I think I did, and moved house at least once before the first issue arrived. Even then, there was excess postage to pay on it, which I could never work out why.

Anyway, I think my subscription is at an end now, but I wasn't going to renew just yet, because I'd only read up to August, which meant I had September, October, November/December, and January backed up on the shelf. But, of course, five days in France and I devoured the lot (in between naps and meals), and I'm gonna renew straight away.

I've always been fond of the short form of SF. Each issue of Asimov's usually gives you a novella (I'm thinking 40,000 words? Correct me if I'm wrong), a couple of novelettes, and several short stories, and the quality is consistently high. It's a great way to discover (and support) new writers or rediscover those you thought were dead (!).

I particularly enjoyed the Kristine Kathryn Rusch novella, "Diving into the Wreck," from the December issue. So impressed, I just ordered 4 of her books from Amazon. As is traditional with Science Fiction, the cover illustration is a long way from being illustrative of the story itself, which is a spooky tale of "deep space diving" into an abandoned ship which is 5,000 years old, and a long way from where it could possibly be, given its type etc.

The story is an example, I suppose, of the New Space Opera. This sub-genre has moved on from speculating about the next few hundred years and has leaped ahead, dealing with mind-boggling numbers, sending humanity into impossibly distant futures. It's exactly the kind of thing that would have saved the Star Trek franchise from falling over itself so badly, by squeezing the various spin-offs too close together. Imagine if they'd jumped forward, say, 5,000 years, into a future in which Earth is a mere legend among the Diaspora of humanity.

Anyway, you can't see that kind of thing on the telly, so you have to read about it in Asimov's and its ilk. The stories will vary, from New Space Opera to Alternate History, to retold legends and myths, psychological puzzles, end-of-the-world tales, stories about the future of the War on Terror, the post-oil economy, nanotech, biotech, that kind of thing. Occasionally, you'll read something so brilliant that you'll head off to check out the rest of that writer's bibliography.

Other SF Magazines are available, or you can try Ellery Queen for mysteries or Hitchcock for horror.


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