Perihelion SF # 56 (emag review).
‘Perihelion SF’ is back on the net, hurrah! It’s a fine mix of fiction, articles, comic strips and reviews and I’ve missed it. This issue is up to the usual high standards.
Focusing on fiction first we begin with Joseph Green’s ‘Blood And Bone’. Johann and Axel are agents for Ansvar internal security and have infiltrated an All Gods country kirk by posing as farm machinery salesmen. Tractors are slowly replacing mules on Nyscandia’s farms. They watch a small boy being initiated into the Vitharian sect by having his head marked with a knife by a priest. Vithar is a Norse God, son of Odin, but the priest is secretly a Catholic. Dozens of them have infiltrated the Northern sect and are waiting for an opportunity to cause havoc. Joseph and Axel are men of Nyscandia, roughly the USA in our world, which is being invaded by Aztecs. Fights and gun battles are well described in this alternate history secret agent caper. The complex background is from Green’s novel ‘Spies Of Nyscandia’ which has now been added to my long ‘to read’ list. Short stories work well as previews for both authors and readers.
‘Inseparable’ by Evonne M. Biggins is set in a future where the Earth is dying because of pollution and slowly taking mankind with it. Granddaughter brings a small spaceship home to Grandpap and assures him she has spoken with one of the aliens inside. He assumes it’s a toy but goes along with her notion. The background situation is put across by Grandpap’s remembrance of things past as their conversation progresses. I thought the plot was a bit thin but the prose is the kind that wins awards.
In ‘Captive Skin’ by Eric Del Carlo, the galaxy is at war and has been for eons, only now ‘star-faring humans were caught up in the goo-shed (not every species had blood’. When his ship is destroyed, Jankovic finds himself floating in space for two weeks with only his combat skin, a sophisticated AI enhanced battle armour, for company. Like all the best military SF this focuses on the human side and it’s a great story.
‘Terra Forms’ by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks and Justin Adams is next. Driggs and Jayce have a scout ship and a mission. They are programmed to find a planet suitable for human colonisation and terraform it. This is another story where artificial intelligence starts to get emotional. There should be a name for this theme: Datapunk, maybe. The idea is popular but emotional AIs are not desirable. Humans are too emotional and seem to be getting downright hysterical as the new millennium progresses. Look at the mess we make of everything. Keep robots cool!
Seaman Erik Dumet takes up his watch on Distant Observation Station 318 in ‘On the Snark Watch’ by Karl Dandenell. The two-man crew must look out for alien bugs at the edge of the solar system. Dumet quickly finds that his companion for two weeks is a pain in the ass. This is a nice low key story about coping with annoying workmates. There’s science, too.
‘Pitching A Bug’ by Chet Gottfried also features bugs and a space station. Raddel is a salesman and his boss, Wharton, is a Gorgohorribilis, owner of Heavenly Solar Systems. The shop is a space station that sells star systems to the wealthiest in the galaxy. This is light entertainment that takes a surprising turn at the end. Jolly good fun.
The last of the fiction is ‘Fly, Robin, Fly’ by C.E. Gee, an amusing little snippet of a tale with an airship, though it’s not steampunk.
After that, there are two non-fiction articles. In ‘Tesla’s Death Ray Wall’, Eric M. Jones revives for discussion 1934 article in which Nikola Tesla argued that an energy beam was possible. In ‘Alien Argument by J.Richard Jacobs, he tells us off a discussion he had with a non-believer about the possibility of life on other planets and why we haven’t met them yet. Both pieces are interesting, especially the latter. Carol Kean does a good review of ‘Chronicle Worlds: Tails Of Dystopia’ and points out that animals in SF can be sentient and complicated not just cute and fluffy.
It’s good to have ‘Perihelion SF’ back on-line as it frequently provides a welcome dose of humorous SF in amongst the gloomy dystopias and, with a bit of luck, it will continue. The new format means it won’t be strictly a monthly issue but rather an ever-expanding blog with new stuff added as it comes in. It’s all free, too, though donations are welcome.
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