February 14, 2015

Asimov's 1978 (Part 2), Yevtushenko

There were quite a few gems in the July/August issue of Asimov's Science Fiction.  Public Relations by Ginger Kaderabek tells of a reluctant journalist who inadvertently saves the world and perhaps helps right an intergalactic injustice.  All in a hard day's work?

Dance Band on the Titanic from Jack Chalker presents a modern ghost(ish) story aboard an odd ferry boat operating out of my old stomping grounds near Seattle, Washington.  The main character decides during his tenure aboard, he will try and save a woman who appears to jump from the ferry, drowning night after night.  Frederick S. Lord, Jr.'s, But Do They Ride Dolphins will choke you up as it explores family bonds and genetically engineered aquatic human slave-ish type beings.  Because science fiction.  Serious.  (Side note: I didn't want to like that previous story, but these things happen.)

Fragger's Bottom Line... Line... Line... by Sherwood Springer is a time twisting heist/betrayal mash-up, cheeky to the very end.  A great way to round out a very complete anthology.

The issue rolling through September and October has a confident start with  E. Amalia Andujar's Softly Touch the Stranger's Mind, however the rest of the magazine seemed to taper in energy and consistency.  This may be one to revisit in the future just to make sure I gave it a fair shake, however odd and redundant that may be.

The November/December issue was probably the most fun of the lot yet.  A good mixture of styles and lengths; although 196 pages like the rest, I felt it ended too soon!  The Tryouts by Barry B. Longyear and Out of Quarantine by Bill Pronzini and Barry N. Malzberg are good examples of the entertaining and quality science fiction known to Asimov's.

The former opens up the magazine, and to be honest I read the first couple paragraphs over and over again trying to get into it.  The guilt from feeling like I did not fully appreciate the previous issue was seeping through and daring me to disregard this one as well.  The story centers upon an intensifying fireside chat between travelers; one sharing valuable news surprising them all.
The latter is a quick, but semi-disturbing snippet of one man's return from six years of loneliness, mining the asteroid belt.  Being alone that long, well, can make a person a little off... (?)

Starting in 1979, Asimov's begins releasing an issue every month.  This is going to get fun.

*

Yevtushenko
by Ted Kooser

Yevtushenko, you came to Nebraska.
Yes, of all places, Nebraska-
cornfield, wheatfield, cow and college.

You had  a sore throat and you smelled of camphor.
Your blue eyes were small in your face.
You read your windy poems, Yevtushenko,
like a tree in the wind you read them,
waving your branches.  We sat back
as far in our seats as we could,
frightened of Russia.  Then it was over
and you scooped up your leaves and sat down.

After the party, we drove across town
to the Governor's house.  It was already late.
You wanted to sit in the Governor's chair
and he let you.  You drank his red wine
and showed us the long movie you'd made
of your life.  You recited a list of the people
you knew:  Kissinger, Nixon, Kennedy (Bob).

The Governor's eyes were as hollow as Lincoln's.
He nodded as Lincoln must have nodded
while Mary Todd Lincoln went over the menu.
At three in the morning, we finally left,
and when you thanked him, Yevtushenko, for his time,
he said it was all part of the job.