|Artemis, Autumn 2000|
|A review by Rich Horton
The articles include a piece by Gregory Bennett, debunking the notion of domed cities on the moon, and proposing to put cities in lunar caves instead; a mock-promotional piece about a casino on the moon, by Strock and Kit Hawkins; and a story about amateur rocketry, by Dale M. Gray. They're reasonably interesting, and as expected rather boosterish, but as I share the prejudice of the magazine, that's fine with me. The poems are by Marianne Plumridge, Richard Richardson, and Jo Walton, and they are all decent SF poems. I like Walton's "The Hull" the best, about a spaceship hull preserved as a memorial.
It's the stories that make or break a science fiction magazine, however. My favourite story in this third issue of Artemis is "Brain Drain," a novelette by Fran Van Cleave. This only barely fits the magazine's theme, by mentioning a space-drive somebody is working on, but that's OK. The story is set in a future where America has become extremely suspicious of scientists. The hero is a young boy with considerable mechanical aptitude, who is nonetheless unthinkingly a supporter of the new regime, and even a member of a youth group working at building a defensible border with Canada, to try to prevent the escape of America's best scientists. Of course, during the action of the story, with the help of a nice young girl, he learns better. The story isn't wholly plausible, and the villains are a bit too broadly drawn, but it's still a good fun read.
The other stories are less satisfying. "Moonlegs," by Pete D. Manison, is a sentimental story built around the idea that the lower gravity on the Moon might make it a better choice for rehabilitating serious injuries. A man spends some time there learning to use his leg prostheses, and makes friends with a couple of long-term residents. It's just OK, with a seriously strained premise, and a bit more sentimentality than I really like, but just enough of a twist to make it stand out slightly. "A Change in the Weather," by Phil Goetz, is a very short story about a boy stuck on the moon who loves weather -- but of course there isn't any. His father finds a solution. This was alright for its length, but uninspiring. "Charity's Case" by Ed Muller is about a down-on-his-luck lunar pilot and a stowaway from a repressive religious colony. It's predictable (the pilot has just enough fuel to add the stowaway's weight, etc.), and nothing special, but it reads well enough. The weakest piece is "East of the Sun, West of Europa," which qualifies for inclusion by being set near Jupiter's moon Europa, but which really could have been set on Earth with no important changes. It's an unconvincing story about a man who plans to murder an old woman, and his secret reason.
I've seen two issues of this new magazine so far. I'd say it's fulfilling its apparent goal of presenting stories and articles boosting near term space exploration pretty well. The stories are mostly middle of the road, but they are at least readable, and perhaps over time the magazine will grow in reputation, attracting higher quality material.
Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton.
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