Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Birthday Review: Short Fiction of Gregory Norman Bossert

Birthday Review: Short Fiction of Gregory Norman Bossert

by Rich Horton

Greg Bossert turns 57 today (hard as that may be to believe!), and in his honor I'm posting this set of the reviews I've done for Locus of his stories. All except one -- for my review of "The Empyrean Light", from the Fall 2018 Conjunctions, you'll have to wait for the next issue of Locus (February).

Locus, May 2010

Gregory Norman Bossert’s first story, “The Union of Sky and Soil”, appears in the April-May Asimov’s, and it’s an impressive debut, albeit undeniably the work of a writer with room to grow. The setup and working out are fairly familiar: an archaeological team on an alien planet is working against time to unearth the wonders of the natives’ distant past before the human colonists and a local mining company kick them out. Will any reader doubt for a second that the site will, at the last minute, yield truly amazing things? Of course not, but for all that familiar plot, and the crude cartoons of the villains, there is much to like here, particularly the quite nicely and naturally depicted characters of the archaeologists, and the lovely concept of the aliens’ art: glass/plant meldings, and the quite moving conclusion.

Locus, August 2010

In the August Asimov's I was happy to see Gregory Norman Bossert’s second story, “Slow Boat”, good work but a bit formulaic, about a woman kidnapped and sent into space inside a suspended animation box of course. The mystery is who kidnapped her and why, and the action is how she responds to this. I didn’t quite buy it, and there was too much telling, but the idea is nice, and Bossert remains an intriguing new writer.

Locus, December 2010

New writer Gregory Norman Bossert continues to impress with “Freia in the Sunlight” (Asimov's): here Freia is an AI warplane, who begins to interpret her optimal actions in unexpected ways.

Locus, February 2013

In Beneath Ceaseless Skies #109, Gregory Norman Bossert's “The Telling” is a very original story about a strange child (significantly named Mel) is a strange house whose master has just died. Mel, ambiguously some sort of heir, is drafted to do the “Telling” – to ask the bees of the household to continue to offer their favor. It is full of atmosphere, and weirdness, and disconnection … a lovely story, from a writer who has impressed with everything I've seen from him, and each story quite different to the others.

Locus, August 2013

Perhaps the best in the August Asimov's is “Lost Wax”, by Gregory Norman Bossert. This is another story of revolution, centered around two people, a young artist who sculpts “Messenger Birds” and her friend who helps engineer them to carry provocative messages around the city, whose rulers use “golethem” to control the populace. There's not much surprising in the way this all works out, and if the political ideas are a bit trite the characters are involving and the central notion is well worked out.

Locus, December 2013

Other good stories in the December Asimov's include ... Gregory Norman Bossert's “Bloom”, solid sf adventure of the “menacing alien biology” variety, with a guide and two other people trapped on a “bloom” that will consume them at the slightest move;

Locus, April 2015

Gregory Norman Bossert signaled with his first story a few years ago that he was a writer to watch, and he hasn't disappointed since, showing excellent range and a real feel for story. His latest, “Twelve and Tag”, from the March Asimov's, may be his best yet. It's a tense piece told in a bar in the Jupiter system, as a team of ice miners get to know their newest crew members, Adra and Zandt. They play a game, “Twelve and Tag”, built on quickly matching word pairs but more importantly on telling stories – one true, one false. The stories, the first by an existing crew member, the rest by the new crew, work brilliantly first to set the scene: a future in which the “Out”: space, the Outer Planets, are a frontier in the traditional sense, where fortunes can be made but where life is fairly cheap; all complicated by the expensive process of TAGing, whereby one can be backed up. But then we gather that the backups of many people were lost in a hack some years ago. The individual tales, representing the worst or the most painful or the most embarrassing things the tellers have done, work well to illuminate character – of the tellers, to be sure, and also of the listeners: variously they are mini-adventures and tales of fraught family lives and lost loves … and eventually, the real story, linking everything together, comes clear. It's a good a story as I've seen in 2015, with a neat Sfnal background, wrenching personal details, and exciting action.

Locus, February 2017

Gregory Norman Bossert is always interesting, and “Higherworks” (Asimov's, December 2016) is certainly that, though I felt it didn’t quite work. Dyer is some kind of creator of nanotechnology that seems to be used for communal rave-like events (one issue I had was that I never quite understood this particular purpose – my fault, perhaps). But she is on shaky legal ground – she is a US Economic Refugee in the UK, and moreover her former company believes she has stolen their intellectual property, and this use of nano seems to be illegal in the UK – and on this particular day she seems to be followed by a mysterious woman who keeps disappearing. The ultimate explanation is sensible, I suppose, but I found it a bit underwhelming.

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