edited by Jason Rennie, David Hallquist & Ben Zwycky
My rating: 3.4 of 5 stars
Astounding Frontiers is a new science fiction magazine that consists of short stories and serialized novels in the pulp fiction vein. Although I only give it 3.4 stars overall, the potential for some great stories is there in the editing choices. The serials seem to be of high caliber; it just remains to be seen if they will be worth the expense of the format.
A review of each short story & serial in this issue is below.
Average is 3.4 stars, although if it were weighted by word count, it would be higher.
- The Death Ride of SUNS Joyeuse (1 star)
by Patrick S. Baker
This story drops you in the middle of a battle in a universe you know nothing about and then describes all the guns, ammo and battle tactics. Not enough story and not enough characterization.
- Riders of the Red Shift (2.5 stars)
by Lou Antonelli
The fate of old nukes of Earth and the politics of a now old failed rebellion are revealed. It’s an interesting backstory, maybe even a good prologue to a novel, but not a very good story in and of itself. Also slightly repetitive in places.
- According to Culture (5 stars)
by Declan Finn
A greedy slaver grabs the wrong girl, the daughter of a Space Ranger, who proceeds to ‘correct’ the culture of the Caplud Empire. Very entertaining, fast paced, action packed. This is a great short story that’s full ass kicking and bubblegum chewing. I’d say the flavor is a little John Ringo with a little H. Beam Piper and a dash of Laumer’s Retief.
- Stopover on Monta Colony – (3 stars)
by Erin Lale
A pit-stop at a far flung colony means the discovery of a new sentience. A bit confusing at first, but it gets better. It reminded me of an H. Beam Piper stories called Naudsonce.
- Watson’s Demons (3 stars)
by Sarah Salviander
Hubris can affect both low and high intelligence. A practical joke by a super being on a scientist results in a lesson learned for both. It’s a neat tale, but slightly esoteric.
- Nowither (5 stars)
by John C. Wright
This is a serialized sequel to Somewither. The prologue is a summary of that rather large tome (590 pages?). I wish I had realized that so that I could faster my mental seatbelt before reading it. My medulla oblongata had whiplash by the time I was done, but that was offset by my pleasure centers being over-stimulated by the rest of the story. This alone is enough to hook me on the Astounding Frontiers magazine. My only problem is that I have not read the first book, so I am a bit behind in my understanding. I think I will go read that before I continue this one. *sigh* More items in the T.B.R. pile.
Oh, the story is about the escape from the forces of the Darkest Tower. It’s awesome.
- In the Seraglio of the Sheik of Mars (4 stars)
by Ben Wheeler
Even though it takes place in the solar system, the settings and culture of this story is Middle Eastern/Arabic. There is a major back-story to it that is not fully revealed up front, and the main story is actually a tale being told by an old man of his youth. It’s quite good, but you have to like the Scheherazade/Aladdin/Ali Baba style tales. It may prove to be an enticing serial, but my personal take is wait and see. I’ll probably be picking up the next issue, so maybe I’ll know then.
- Galactic Outlaws (4 stars)
by Nick Cole & Jason Anspach
It what feels like an homage to Star Wars, we find the young Prisma Maydoon arriving on the frontier world of Ackabar looking for a bounty hunter just as the big bad evil empire arrives to take charge. It’s good, campy, and I like it. I need more.
Overall, I give this one 3.4 stars and call it an Enticing Read.