Every month for roughly the past 40 years I’ve made a pilgrimage to the nearest newsstand to purchase my favorite fiction magazines. The newsstands have changed over the years, and the mix of magazines has too. But it’s a tradition I’ve come to cherish.
Well, this is a time of broken traditions. All the local bookstores are closed (not that there were many to begin with), and I find myself at a loss. New issues of Asimov’s SF, Analog, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction are now available, at least in theory. In practice, I have no way to buy them. And according to their various websites this batch is particularly enticing, packed with new stories by Ian R. MacLeod, Eleanor Arnason, Ian Watson, Bruce McAllister, R. Garcia y Robertson, Dominica Phetteplace, Neal Asher, Derek Kunsken, Richard Bowes, M. Rickert, Bruce Sterling, Robert Reed, and many others. And for the first time in decades, it looks like I’ll miss out.
When I griped about this on Facebook today, there were plenty of sympathetic suggestions. Mark Tiedemann endorsed an independent bookstore that mailed ordered single issues… but it has abruptly stopped carrying magazines. Mark Shainblum suggested digital issues… but I have nearly nine solid decades of print issues of Astounding/Analog, and it sure doesn’t feel right to give up now. Adrian Simmons shared my pain, and suggested he might subscribe, even if sub copies do come with an ugly mailing label. And Darrell Schweitzer shared the hard-won secret of removing those damn mailing labels with a damp cloth.
It was comforting to have so many folks commiserate. And I suppose, in the end, the right thing to do in these tough times is to support the magazines with a subscription. And that’s what I’ll do. If you love — or are curious about — short fiction, I hope you’ll consider doing the same. You can shop for digital and print subscriptions at the Asimov’s SF, Analog, and F&SF websites. Check out the editorial descriptions for each issue below.
First up, Sheila Williams on the May/June 2020 Asimov’s SF.
Don’t miss our May/June 2020 compelling novelettes! In “Tunnels,” Eleanor Arnason escorts us to a distant future where her characters discover a complex web of dangerous intrigue. The world of Ian R. MacLeod’s brilliant tale, “The Mrs. Innocents,” which is both similar and very different from our own, hinges on one woman’s powerful sacrifice.
You’ll find some more exceptional novelettes. “Ronni and Rod” face catastrophic disaster in David Gerrold & Ctein’s new tale; James Gunn’s “Against the Stars” continues the pursuit of a mysterious A.I.; a young woman comes of age in Tegan Moore’s “Perfect Blue”; and in his first story for Asimov’s, Brad Aiken teams with Rick Wilber, one of the magazine’s veteran authors, for a trip to “Ithaca.” Ian Watson’s short story investigates the classic “Brave New World by Oscar Wilde”; torn with guilt, Bruce McAllister’s hero must listen to “The Voice”; new to Asimov’s author Alice Towey takes us to “The River” to experience a young woman’s excruciating adaptation to a brain implant; another new to Asimov’s author Evan Marcroft visits the gods in “Pax Mongolica”; and Dominica Phetteplace imagines a chilling future in “Digital Witness.” You’ll be “Living in Wartime” in the issue’s thrilling novella by R. Garcia y Robertson!
We anticipate a very special Guest Editorial by astronaut Cady Coleman; Robert Silverberg’s Reflections column reels in “The One That Gets You Hooked”; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net posits “Two Dooms”; Norman Spinrad’s On Books reviews novels by Chen Qiufan and Ma Jian as well as the anthology, Invisible Planets, edited and translated by Ken Liu, to give us a look at Modern Chinese Science Fiction — Windows into China; plus we’ll have an array of poetry and additional features you’re sure to enjoy.
And Trevor Quachri on the May-June Analog:
The celebration continues! Next issue, our cover story is one where alien physiology also leads to alien philosophy: it’s “Moral Biology,” by Neal Asher.
Then we have arguably the most famous piece in our retrospective series: Anne McCaffrey’s “Weyr Search,” with a poignant introduction from Analog’s majordomo, managing (and poetry) editor, the superlative Emily Hockaday.
Our fact article is the rather self-explanatorily titled “Space Dust: How an Asteroid Altered Life on Earth . . . Millions of Years Before the Dinosaurs,” by one of our most popular nonfiction authors, Richard A. Lovett.
Of course we also have part two of Derek Künsken’s serial, The House of Styx — no spoilers, but readers who enjoyed the nuanced characters, hard science, and imaginative world-building in The Quantum Magician and especially “Persephone Descending” will find much to love here.
We’ll also have scores of other stories, about dirty deeds in a mining colony in “A Breath of Air,” from Tom Jolly; an alien getting a wider look at its own culture in Ramona Louise Wheeler’s “The Calm Face of the Storm”; a father try to bond with his daughter in spite of changing technology in Eric Cline’s “It Was Tradition When You Turned 16.”
I’ll come back and post C. C. Finlay’s summary of the May-June F&SF as soon as it’s available.
Check out all of our recent magazine coverage here.