The author interview this time is with John Shirley, who also has a short story included in this edition. The R.I.P. section notes the death of Tom Clancy, who qualifies for a mention because of his near-future doomsday scenarios in such stories as The Sum of All Fears and Debt of Honor. As I've noted before, there is no clear dividing line between the technothriller and SF.
The reviews section does its usual useful job of pointing me towards some interesting-sounding books I'd not heard of, in this case Paul McAuley's Quiet War sequence – one to add to the shopping list. Screen reviews include Thor: the Dark World (favourable), Ender's Game (critical), About Time (critical), Pacific Rim (bad SF but a fun fantasy), and the TV series Under the Dome (reviewed here last week), which generates a detailed and largely positive cultural analysis of its place in modern mythology.
The six short stories included this time are:
Unknown Cities of America by Tim Lees, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A man searches for a young woman who had been forced to leave him to return to Nagosha – a city he'd never heard of – and discovers that there are many more places in America than those shown on maps.
Paprika by Jason Sanford, illustrated by Ben Baldwin. The far future, when the last remaining people are gradually dying out despite being almost immortal, their essences being captured and stored by time angels - aetherial beings created for that purpose. But one of the angels forms an attachment to one of the last men.
Filaments by Lavie Tidhar, illustrated by Wayne Haag. Another of this author's Central Station series set in a huge spaceship station located in Israel. This one concerns an ancient robot priest and its relationship to the people it lives amongst.
Haunts by Claire Humphrey, illustrated by Martin Hanford. In a land of professional duellers, one ex-fighter tries to preserve her old training school, where the ghosts of dead duellists linger.
The Kindest Man in Stormland by John Shirley, illustrated by Wayne Haag. A private detective goes hunting for a serial killer in a hazardous Charleston wrecked by the constant violent hurricanes caused by global warming.
Trans-Siberia: an Account of a Journey by Sarah Brooks, illustrated by Richard Wagner. In an alternative past, the dangers of travelling by rail between China and Russia are far more than merely physical, as a young musician discovers.
A rather downbeat collection this time, full of images of dying and loss. My favourite is the most conventional SF tale – Shirley's – although I found that Brooks' story also had an offbeat appeal.