The fourth of Ben Baldwin's 2012 covers is called The Hermit.
Steamgothic by Sean McMullen
illustrated by Jim Burns
There is something special about things that change the world. I cannot say what it is, but I can feel it. I have stood before the Vostok capsule that carried the first man into space. Influence glowed from it, I knew where it was even with my eyes closed. In the Spurlock Museum I saw the strange, twisted, lumpy thing that was the first transistor. The significance that it radiated was like the heat from a fire. The Babbage Analytical Engine of 1871 had no such aura, yet the whole of Bletchley Park did. There was no doubt in my mind about which of them had really launched the age of computers.
The Wright Brothers’ Flyer had no feeling of significance for me. This made no sense. It was the first heavier than air machine to fly, it proved the principle, it changed the world, yet my strange intuition said otherwise. Then I saw the Aeronaute, and everything should have become clear to me.
Ship's Brother by Aliette de Bodard
illustrated by Joe Burns
You never liked your sister.
I know you tried your best, that you would stay awake at night thinking on filial piety and family duty, praying to your ancestors and the bodhisattva Quan Am to find strength, but that it would always come back to that core of dark thoughts within you, that fundamental fright you carried with you like a yin shadow in your heart.
One Day in Time City by David Ira Cleary
illustrated by Richard Wagner
Joey’s in the 60s, about to do a heist. This far uptown, he’s arthritic in his hands, sore and knobby-jointed. But his knees and ankles are grand as ever, so he rides his moped.
The moped’s sweet. Seven gears, top speed forty, courier backpack fastened to a rack behind the seat. Best of all, its brake pads are new, and stopping’s quick.
Like now. The Conquistador 6-by-6 he’s behind (three axles, five tons) brakes suddenly. A moped with old pads would flip him backside to the tinted rear window. But the new brakes stop him upright.
He sees himself reflected in the Conquistador’s gleaming citrine shell. Blue Pick‑Up Boy helmet, eager frightened eyes, smile lines like riverbeds, the smile itself automatic though his gray nostril hairs are trembling.
“Sorry!” shouts the Uppie who’s driving.
Railroad Angel by Gareth L. Powell
So Neal’s out on the railroad tracks in Mexico, wearing nothing but jeans and a T-shirt. It’s February 1968 and the air’s cold. He’s been at a wedding, and now he’s out wandering in the night, miles from anywhere, feeling old and slow and tired.
Out here, he can hear himself think. His shuffling shoes crunch the cinders between the railroad sleepers, and his heart beats a ponderous rhythm in his chest. He holds a cigarette pinched between thumb and forefinger. When he drags on it, the tip flares like a firefly in the Mexican night.
2011 James White Award Winner
Invocation of the Lurker by C.J. Paget
illustrated by Dave Senecal
Tara shifts uncomfortably on the batik cushion. Her pale skin scatters light from candles and glow-globes, creating her own little puddle of luminosity in the twilit room. Her hosts keep to the edges, the outer darkness. Their lights are the glow of intoxicant roll-ups, or the many stylistic flourishes of zoner fashion. There’s the winking-blinking of electronics, worn like jewellery or implanted into flesh; communications devices that one-time-rich-people like Tara don’t need. Some lights are the symptoms of ‘bad-bugs’, designer viruses left over from the Big-Bad-Mad; phosphorescent teeth, luminous pattern-rashes, glowing veins. In the zones people sometimes accept these infections willingly, as a badge of tribal membership. Everyone in this group has green, glowing irises; she’s surrounded by voyeuristic stars.
Ansible Link by David Langford
news and obituaries
Book Zone by Jim Steel, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Paul F. Cockburn, Elaine Gallagher, Ian Hunter, Peter Loftus, Lawrence Osborn, Iain Emsley, Jack Deighton
book reviews including Darkening Skies by Juliet E. McKenna (with author interview by Elaine Gallagher), A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin, The City's Son by Tom Pollock, Irenicon by Aidan Harte, Three Science Fiction Novellas by J-H Rosny aîné, The Outcast Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Fever by Lauren DeStefano, Rocket Science edited by Ian Sales, The Sword & Sorcery Anthology edited by David Hartwell & Jacob Weisman
Mutant Popcorn by Nick Lowe
film reviews including Prometheus, Men in Black 3, Iron Sky, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Chernobyl Diaries, Dark Shadows, Snow White and the Huntsman, Storage 24
Laser Fodder by Tony Lee
DVD and Blu-ray reviews including Metropolis, Things to Come, Mystery Science Theater 300: The Movie, Iron Sky, Humanity's End, Earth 2, Lesbian Vampire Warriors, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Painted Skin, Falling Skies, Hell, John Carter, Total Recall, Roujin-Z, Howl's Moving Castle, Tales from Earthsea, The Land that Time Forgot, At the Earth's Core, Warlords of Atlantis, They Came from Beyond Space, The Astronaut Farmer
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