Asimov's Science Fiction, January 2007
The most noticeable problem with the January 2007 issue of Asimov's is that it isn't the December issue of Asimov's. My December has decided not to arrive, and I am displeased.
But the biggest problem is that two of the stories do not belong in the magazine. Neither Cafe Culture nor Gunfight at the Sugarloaf Pet Food & Taxidermy have any element of science fiction or fantasy. There isn't a hint of the fantastic in either story. They're both fine stories, but they're out of place. Cafe Culture belongs in a pretentious literary fiction magazine, and Gunfight at the Sugarloaf Pet Food & Taxidermy could pass as either a detective story or an action story.
The other stories definitely belong in Asimov's. I did not much like Trunk and Disorderly, though. Stross's prose gets in the way of his storytelling. Or more precisely, his prose is a smokescreen to hide his lack of storytelling. Someone so obviously skilled should be able to turn a neat phrase while also telling a good tale, but Stross either fails to do so, or chooses not to.
- Novelette: Safeguard, by Nancy Kress - Children designed as biological weapons are raised in a biodome, until a massive earthquake cracks the dome.
- Novelette: The Hikikomori's Cartoon Kimono, by A. R. Morlan - A young Japanese man working in a tattoo shop strikes up a friendship with a food artist at a local Japanese restaurant.
- Novelette: Trunk and Disorderly, by Charles Stross - An atmosphere surfer survives his jump, but is distraught over his mistress leaving him. However, at the post-jump party, he sees his mistress has been kidnapped by the brother of the Emir of Mars.
- Poison, by Bruce McAllister - A boy's cat is poisoned, so he confronts the witch who lives nearby.
- Cafe Culture, by Jack Dann - A depressed man stops a suicide bomber, then, seizing the opportunity, dons her explosive vest and bombs a target of his choice.
- Battlefield Games, by R. Neube - Soldier in foxhole plays chess with an enemy missile.
- Gunfight at the Sugarloaf Pet Food & Taxidermy, by Jeff Carlson - Julie Beauchain works for the Fish, Parks, and Wildlife Service in Montana. Her out-of-season-hunting sting turns sinister when a strange outsider shoots up her dummy deer with a submachine gun.