Average issue. Let’s dive into the stories.
“The Discovered Country” by Ian MacLeod is another story of reality vs. virtual reality and life vs. death. Ingenious in the concept, I found it dragging quite a bit. I don’t know why it’s the cover story.
“The Unparallel’d Death-Defying Feats of Astoundio, Escape Artist Extraordinarie” by Ian Creasy. Nooooh! Noooooh! Such a good idea was thrown into the sewers! Astoundio is an escape artist of the future and in his last feat is that he wants to escape from nothing less than a black hole! He’s quite cool, he has a plan, the idea is great and the milieu is interesting. The first part is pure science fiction; we have the spaceship, we have the usual “virtual copies” of people and of course we have the love story. In other words, the reader is gladly willing to leave real world's physics behind so that he can read that Astoundio can actually escape from the black hole. Then, the story is completely ruined when a fantasy-like elements gets thrown in. Death itself is pissed off? A Doppleganger can travel between universes (already a weak plot device) with the spaceship? Come on, please. They require a big leap of faith. However, the ending, with the philosophical and paradoxical questions, is all right.
“A Hole in the Ether” by Benjamin Crowell. It’s the best of this issue. By far. Dedicated to Ray Bradbury, it’s full of “bradburian” references; Venus is mentioned and my guess is that it is a hidden homage to “All summer in a day”. I am not a Bradbury affecionado, but all the elements are there, inspired clearly by Fahrenheit 451. The story is very dystopian and I recommend its reading.
“What we Ourselves are not” by Leah Cypess. A story about differences and cultural values. Interesting concept.
“As yet untitled” by James Sallis is flash fiction. Nice read.
“The Universe we Both Dreamed Of” by Jay O’Connell is a nice read about a guy interviewed by a girl. Or is she an alien? He doesn’t know.
“What Changes You, What Takes You Away” by Dominica Phetteplace is the story of a girl with Down Syndrome that gets in contact with an alien. The extraterrestrial’s appearance is like that of a human. A short story about being beautiful and somehow appreciated.