Jody Lynn Nye, editor, Don't Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear (Baen, 1996)

I'll never forget the day it happened. I had reasoned with one of my Darling Poppets about something for perhaps the eleventeenth time, and for the eleventeenth time, Darling Poppet's cherubic lips framed the word "Why?" I opened my mouth and again and was astounded to hear my mother's voice emerge saying "Because I said so!" Every exorcist I called laughed at me.

But the folks at Baen know that this happens, and I believe that this is why they published Don't Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear. The nineteen entries in this collection take a mostly humorous and mainly loving look at mothers.

"From Your Mouth to God's Ear" by Ellen Guon features a young systems engineer who finds out that she has a lot to learn from a grandmotherly programmer. Michael Scott writes about how Mother knows what's good for her children, no matter what form she takes, in "I Told You So." Robert Lynn Asprin's "You Never Call" is about a tough human commander on the brink of war with an equally resolute alien foe and the force neither can resist. The brief poem "A Mother's Lament" by Judith R. Conly just goes to show that some things never change, and a teen-aged girl finds out just what happens when the wind changes in "Your Face Will Freeze Like That" by Morgan Llywelyn.

Even a secret agent can afford to have good manners, as Jody Lynn Nye points out in "What's the Magic Word." And with a name like Victoria Fredericks, you just know that the ensign in Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's "Don't Go Out in Holy Underwear" is going to heed her mother's advice. Teenage rebellion and peer pressure is not specific to any particular life form as William R. Fortschen demonstrates in "Would You?"

If you recall your Greek mythology, Medea was never well known for her parenting skills, but Esther Friesner turns mythology on its ear with "Just Wait 'Til You Have Children." Bill Fawcett tells a tale about the mother's secret against which Death is powerless in "You'll Catch Your Death of Colds," while Anne McCaffrey paints a portrait of old age in the future in "The Golden Years: Respect Your Elders." "Maureen Birnbaum Pokes an Eye Out" by George Alec Effinger whisks the winsome warrior woman to a soap-opera-perfect town where a mother surrogate takes her in hand.

"Clean Up Your Room" by Laura Anne Gilman is a nifty tale about a programmer and her MUM. The mother in Eleanore and Christopher Stasheff's "Return With Your Space Suit or On It" is one of the less appealing moms in the collection; she's an overbearing woman who wields guilt like a knife. "Don't Go Near the Water" by Terri Beckett and Chris Power is a haunting, poignant story about the impossibility of keeping your children safe. Motherhood speaks with the voice of authority in any species or language, as Josepha Sherman Informs us in "Mother Knows Best."

It's tough to have a famous mother who's also darn near perfect, but even perfect moms can surprise you, as Peka discovers in Elizabeth Moon's "Accident's Don't Just Happen ... They're Caused." A compassionate computer is central to "The Starving Children on Mars" by Mike Resnick and Louise Rowder, and Diane Duane wraps up the collection with "Don't Put That in Your Mouth, You Don't Know Where It's Been," a tale about a young pagan woman who gets more than she bargained for while performing a ritual.

The stories are well written overall, but different stories will appeal more to different tastes, which indicates that there is probably something for everyone here. I suggest you get a copy and read it for yourself.

Why?

Because I said so.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

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