A couple of months back, I had received a complimentary pdf copy of Baen's Universe #3 that I was supposed to review by end of June. Unfortunately, several factors intervened to prevent me from reviewing it on time but - as the saying goes - better late than never. So here is my review. However, the stories and features are too numerous to review all at once. So I am going to split the review over a few installments. In this first installment, I am going to review five of the eight SF stories.
First, the generalities:
The over-all look of the magazine is beautiful. The cover art, including the the font used, and the two column page layouts are quite pleasing to the eye. The interior, full-color art is breathtaking. It brought out the good old sensa-wunda feeling in me.
Now the particulars:
All The Things You Are - Mike Resnick
A security officer investigates the bravado death of a man and finds that the dead man expected someone (a "she") to come to him in times of crisis. The investigation further reveals that there have been similar deaths before and all the people who died this way had one thing in common: they had fought a war on the planet Nikita and had been sent back home after being seriously wounded in service. From this point on, the story moves to its conclusion in a very predictable manner. It is a tribute to Mike Resnick's skills as a writer that the story remains very readable in spite of its predictability.
The Old Woman in the Young Woman - Gene Wolfe
A story about cloning, written in the inimitable Gene Wolfe style. Contains at least one ill-explained (for me) plot jump - why does the old woman, who had been tenaciously clinging to life, decide to die? Thoroughly enjoyable, nevertheless.
A Time To Kill - Andrew Swann
A time-travel story (involving the usual paradoxes) dealing with the political situation of the world today. When I started the story, I expected the worst, but by the time I ended reading it, I got the best. Highly recommended.
The Man Who Wasn't There - Gregory Benford
This is not a story. This is just a journalistic narration of an army operation. Totally flat, full of stereotypes, full of clichés, disappointing. I expected better from Benford.
Great Minds - Edward M. Lerner
A very short story, and readable because of its shortness. Multiple universe theory is becoming stale in SF, and there is nothing new in this story to raise it above average.