Three novelettes from the pages of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine:
The Path of the Transgressor, Research Project, Civilians
Tom Purdom likes to quote Frederik Pohl’s definition of a good science fiction story: “Interesting people doing interesting things in an interesting future.” In this 40,000 word mini-collection, he has assembled three of his own attempts to fulfill that ideal. Civilians and The Path of the Transgressor combine psychological and social themes with fast action plots. Research Project looks at the relationship between scholars and their society in two different cultures—a future human society and the culture created by aliens who evolved from tool-using herbivores. Rich Horton called The Path of the Transgressor one of the best stories of 2003 in his short fiction column for Locus Magazine.
The hero of The Path of the Transgressor has given himself a wife who has been genetically and psychologically modified to fulfill his personal needs. Now, on a world humans are just beginning to populate, Davin has to save his wife from a deadly attack—and collide with some basic truths about his wife’s feelings and the attitudes of the people around him.
Civilians is one of Tom Purdom’s “military brat” stories—stories that draw on his own childhood as a navy brat. In orbit over Mercury, the civilian members of a group of military families face a dangerous situation—and confront a fundamental question about their true nature. Are they civilians or soldiers?
Davin Sam is a researcher on another planet, studying the habits of some unusual social animals. His wife Lizera is a former “geisha”—genetically engineered to be predisposed to pleasing her customers....... The action sequences, as the two struggle for survival, are very well done but the meat of the story is the exploration of the nature of their relationship and the social context of it, which leads to a surprising and thought-provoking conclusion.
Tom Purdom’s “The Path of the Transgressor”, a tense and well-paced long novelette places a far more humane but no less deluded animal behaviorist in great danger resulting from his insistence on retaining his ornamental, submissive geisha wife; hunted by pack carnivores on an alien planet, marginalized ideologically by politically progressive elements dominating his scientific community, he comes to a dreadful realization, masterfully orchestrated by Purdom.
Tom Purdom has been writing science fiction for over fifty years. His contributions to the science fiction field include novels, short fiction, magazine articles, and an anthology of non-fiction about science by leading SF writers. The editors who have bought his work include science fiction legends like John W. Campbell and Frederik Pohl and currently active editors such as Sheila Williams, Gardner Dozois, and Stanley Schmidt. For the last twenty years, he has mostly been writing short stories and novelettes that have ended up on the contents pages of Asimov’s. Michael Swanwick has called his Asimov’s stories “an astonishing string of first-rate stories... Purdom’s humane take on the future, his willingness to imagine worlds in which people treat each other better than they do now, makes his work distinctive.”