Well, I finally finished the September 2011 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. One of the reasons that it took me so very long to finish it, is because it was not very good. The fact that this was the first and only Asimov’s Science Fiction that I have ever read disappoints me a bit. I recognize, however, that it all depends on the contents and one month is hardly representative of the next. So, my advice is to read this if you really, really want to, but do not expect much. However, do not give up on this magazine altogether. The cover price was $4.99 and I do not think the quality in this issue is worth the price. The cover art was done by Maurizio Manzieri.
Contents: (fiction only and my rating)
The Observation Post – Allen M. Steele – 3 *s
D.O.C.S – Neal Barrett, jr. – 2 *s
Danilo – Carol Emshwiller – 2 *s
The Odor of Sanctity – Ian Creasey – 3 *s
Shadow Angel – Erick Melton – 1 *s
Grandma Said – R. Neube – 2 *s
Stalker – Robert Reed – 1 *
Burning Bibles – Alan Wall – 2 *s
Overall, you can see by my ratings that I did not really enjoy this issue. I think that the three star pieces are rated generously. More than anything, my overall assessment of this issue is that it did not include enough science fiction. Maybe these are tales of the weird more than science fiction stories. And, for me, that does not cut the muster for what this magazine needs to provide.
The best of the bunch is Ian Creasey’s “The Odor of Sanctity.” I think I gave it three stars for carefully avoiding what it could have run headlong into. It could have turned into a diatribe against religion, it could have made disparaging comments on faith or sanctity. Instead, Creasey gives us a fairly interesting story of a young woman who deals with the death of the local priest – who may or may not be a holy saint. Like all of the stories in this issue, there is not much science fiction. The science fiction element that comes into this story is the concept behind Olvacs. Olvacs are scent recorders/duplicators. Cp. the title of this story.
“The Observation Post” is the other story I gave three stars to. It is the opening story in the issue and it’s the one with the most science fiction in it. It’s not great, but there’s something in it that is worthwhile reading; though even if pressed I find it difficult to say just what that something is. “Danilo” could have been much better. I confess, I was waiting for the coolness to set in…. but that never happened. The dramatic tension was there, the unique characters were there, but then it fell flat. It was not a wretched piece, but it could have been great. I wish it had been.
Other than that, this issue is rather skippable. The cover art is pleasing, the poetry pieces are mostly ill-conceived.