the Little Red Reviewer

Bastion Science Fiction Magazine, issue 6

Posted on: September 3, 2014

bastion 6Bastion Science Fiction Magazine, issue 6

Published September 2014

where I got it: received review copy from the Editor (thanks!)

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This was a very satisfying, yet difficult issue to get through. Let me unpack that a little, because it sounds a little mean, and I meant it to be the opposite.  this isn’t a very long issue, so I’d planned to binge read the entire thing in one or two sittings. The  stories in issue 6 focus around death and memories, risk and responsibility, things we all have to deal with but are terrified to talk about.  After a couple of stories I needed to take a break and read or watch something happy.  But it was really hard to take a break, because the stories all start with a great hook! When fiction can affect you like that, this is a good thing.

 

The issue opens with an emotional bang, with John Herman’s “Pancakes”, in which Charlie is given one last chance to see his father. But is this simulacrum really his dad? It sure looks like his father, sounds like the old bastard too. If you had just a few minutes to talk to a parent who was barely there for you, someone you never got along with, what would you say? Is this the time to be thankful, to be gracious, to be honest, to say the things you never thought you’d have the chance to say?  Charlie says them, and leaves, and then his father finishes the conversation without him.

 

We then move into the very dark “The Long, Slow War”, by Stephanie Herman, a far future science fiction story that takes place at a human colony on a distant planet. I enjoyed how the world building was done in this one, with Herman throwing the reader into the deep end at first, not quite explaining the sky split in half, or these aliens that will kill us if we so much as look at them wrong. The aliens taunt us, and our only weapon is apathy, it’s a futuristic expression of “if you ignore the person teasing you, they’ll get bored and leave you alone”.  It’s time for the treaty to be renewed and signed by both parties, and on the human side of the Embassy is a wall of photos of Ambassadors who didn’t survive the signing meeting.  The story focuses around the current human ambassador and as the meeting gets closer, his anxiety rises like bile in the throat. There is a subtext here of the silent fury behind the pacifism the colonists swore they chose for themselves.

Later in the issue is the very entertaining but tragic “Death Wears Yellow” and the very compelling “The Last Lawsuit”.

 

In “Death Wears Yellow” by J.C. Davis, notice of when you’re going to die is delivered by an overly cheerful yellow clad employee of Endpath, the company that wants to help you through your last hours.  Do you want to spend your last day skydiving? visiting with your grandchildren? Rewriting your will? Endpath can help you with that and more.  When Lori’s husband died three years ago, she would have given anything to see that yellow suit show up at her door. But life has gone on, she’s learned to live alone without her husband and children. How does she want to spend her last hours on Earth?  the story lags a bit in the middle, but I did enjoy the descriptions of how Endpath works, and how it’s customers truly can’t get out of their contracts.

 

Maggie Clark is the big name in this issue, she’s been published in Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, GigaNotoSaurus and elsewhere. This issue closes with her “The Last Lawsuit”. The most envelope pushing piece in the issue, this story focuses on children who are suing the government.  An entire generation was born for one reason: to escape an Earth that will not be able to support human life for much longer.  The government built massive generation ships, and then encouraged people to have as many children as possible. These children, this next generation, would be the saviors of mankind, they would board the ships and go out into the stars to find us a new home.  It’s a nice dream, isn’t it?  But what does it look like from the point of view of those kids? They were never given a choice about any of this, and even at fifteen or sixteen they are not naive enough to believe that every generation ship will find a viable planet.   Written as a courtroom drama, “The Last Lawsuit” is a compelling and fascinating look at the reasons why people have children, responsibilities of one generation to another, and the definition of “the right thing to do”.

On the front page of Bastion’s website, it says “short stories reminiscent of the Golden Age”, and this issue most certainly is that. In these stories there is that nostalgic feeling of stories that focused on ideas and exploration and how technology will help us reach our dreams in the stars. If you’re in the mood for something a little old fashioned, Bastion will scratch that itch for you.

4 Responses to "Bastion Science Fiction Magazine, issue 6"

Reblogged this on Joe's Geek Fest and commented:
The Little Red Reviewer has yet another beautiful review, this time of @BastionSF

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I’m intrigued. I’ll have to start reading this:-)

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On the cover, the name sure looks like BAS1ON (with a one) as opposed to BASTION with an I.

The eye Dr. has ordered a third pair (in 7 weeks) of glasses today. Great expectations I will soon be seeing better, though I have worked my way through three long volumes of Inheritance Cycle and the new Louise Penny mystery and a Greek (as in takes place there) mystery by Jeffrey Siger (4th in series). I want to tackle the last volume of Inheritance, but it’s a whopping 850 pages, so not until the newer glasses come.

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Actually, the “i” and “o” in “Bastion” are a “1” (one) and “0” (zero) on the cover. Same for the site. As in, binary. Science! Subtle, but it’s there.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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