Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Birthday Review: Stories of Daniel Abraham

Before Daniel Abraham was half of James S. A. Corey, he was an exceptional upcoming solo writer of SF and Fantasy. He's still exceptional, mind you, but most of his efforts are focussed on The Expanse. he was born 49 years ago today, so in his honor, I'm posting this compilation of my reviews of his short fiction:

SFF Net post, December 2000

The best story in the February 2001 Asimov's issue is Daniel Abraham's "Exclusion", about people having the ability to simply ignore other people, in such a way that the other person can't even detect the existence of the first person.

Locus, August 2002

Daniel Abraham is a very impressive young writer, and "Ghost Chocolate" (Asimov's, August) is a nice look at possible ramifications of a technology, which would allow brain state transfer from an elderly person to their younger clone.

Locus, February 2004

Daniel Abraham's "An Amicable Divorce" (The Dark) tells of a man living in misery after his marriage fell apart, a result apparently of the death of the couple's son. But a chance at reconciliation seems to offer itself when the wife calls for help -- it seems she is perhaps being haunted. The resolution is unpredictable and bitter.

Locus, August 2004

July is another good month at Sci Fiction. Daniel Abraham's "Leviathan Wept" is a strong, dark, novelette about an anti-terrorist organization that uses brain links to coordinate their operations. They are inevitably morally compromised themselves, which is one dark aspect to the story, but more original is the SFnal idea behind it, suggesting a darker reason behind contemporary human conflicts.

Locus, October 2004

Let's begin with the October-November F&SF double issue, which is strong throughout. Daniel Abraham's "Flat Diane" is a very scary horror story, offering no easy outs, about a newly divorced man and the unfortunate results when his daughter makes a silhouette of herself (Flat Diane) and sends it traveling by mail. Things go awry when Flat Diane ends up at the mother's house – and when her creepy new boyfriend notices. The protagonist is driven to extremes that on the one hand seem inevitable but that will surely not bode well for anyone.

Locus, May 2007

My favorite story in Logorrhea is by Daniel Abraham: “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics”, in which a dissolute nobleman sets a stodgy middle-aged cambist (a foreign exchange expert) three questions on the value of some unusual items. The story is lightly told, with dark overtones, supremely engaging.

Locus, May 2009

My other favorite story here is Solaris 3 is more traditional near future SF: “The Best Monkey” by Daniel Abraham, which intriguingly speculates on the nature of beauty, on its ties to sex, on how what we perceive as elegant might be hardwired with what perceive as a good mating prospect. And what might result if those perceptions were altered. All this revealed as a reporter tries to track the secret behind a strangely successful corporation.

Locus, December 2009

The opening story in Postscripts #19 is a fine steampunk adventure from Daniel Abraham, “Balfour and Meriwether in The Adventure of the Emperor’s Vengeance”. The story involves Jewish and Egyptian history, and an ancient army of robots, all thematically slingshotting us to the 20th Century. (Unlike most steampunk, this appears to be something of a secret rather than alternate history.)

Locus, February 2013

Less original, less ambitious, but arguably more satisfying as pure story, is Gods of Risk, by James S. A. Corey, a novella set in “Corey's” (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck's) Expanse future. This is a YA-flavored piece, set on Mars, where David, an adolescent awaiting his career posting, has been lured into using his chemistry talents to cook drugs. He's infatuated with Leelee, an associate of the dealer he's working for. When she gets in trouble, amid threats of war with Earth, David clumsily tries to come to her rescue. Nothing surprises here, certainly to an extent the characters and situations are cliches, but it all works, it's great fun.

Locus, October 2017

Daniel Abraham’s “The Mocking Tower” (The Book of Swords), concerns two men coming to the title tower to find the sword in which the Imagi Vert, a great wizard and friend of the well-loved old King, is said to have imprisoned the King’s soul. Finding the sword might help one of the King’s son’s win the war of succession that is tearing apart their Empire. But perhaps the King’s son need a lesson more than he needs the sword?

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