Underground Bazaars, Generation Ships, and the Mountains of Madness: November/December Print SF Magazines

Underground Bazaars, Generation Ships, and the Mountains of Madness: November/December Print SF Magazines

Covers by Kurt Huggins, Eldar Zakirov, and David A. Hardy

Things have finally settled down in the magazine section of my local Barnes & Noble, and my favorite print magazines are reliably showing up again. I have to say, I’m relieved they all survived the chaos — in distribution, the market, and to their readers — caused by the pandemic. Magazines are fragile things at the best times, and fiction magazines particularly so.

Having said that, the recent issues are well worth a look. This crop contains brand new stories by George Zebrowski, Jack McDevitt, Connie Willis, James Gunn, Matthew Hughes, Albert E. Crowdrey, Nick DiChario, Juliette Wade, Clancy Weeks, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Chen Quifan, Sam Schreiber, and Marissa Lingen (twice!)

Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact

Analog wraps up its 90th anniversary year with a solid issue overstuffed with fiction — a whopping 19 stories! — including a classic reprint by Gordon R. Dickson, the 1967 Nebula Award-winning novelette “Call Him Lord.” The issue is edited by Trevor Quachri. Here’s all the details.


“Call Him Lord,” Gordon R. Dickson


“Together, We Can Be More!” by Juliette Wade
“This Hard World of Unwanted Beauty” by Evan Marcroft
“Trial and Error” by Grey Rollins
“Winter’s Spring” by A. P. Hawkins
“Enter the Fungicene” by J. M. Swenson


“A Purpose for Stars” by Brad McNaughton
“Ghost Strike” by Brenda Kalt
“Peaceweaver” by Marissa Lingen
“The Polar Bear Sleeps On” by M. Bennardo
“Event” by Timons Esaias
“Courtship FTL” by Mary E. Lowd
“Beloved Toiler” by George Zebrowski
“Brought Near to Beast” by Gregor Hartmann
“Asleep Was the Ship” by Eric Del Carlo
“State of Grace” by Clancy Weeks
“Lazarus, Unbound” by Liam Hogan
“Ashes” by Mario Milosevic
“Why Things Work on a Starship” by Stephen R. Loftus-Mercer


The Women We Can See in Analog, by Marie Vibbert
Just the Facts: How Articles Came to Astounding, by Edward M. Wysocki, Jr.


Big Smart Objects, by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven


So Many Blank Moons, by Holly Lyn Walrath
The Return, by G. O. Clark


Editorial: Therefore, I Knew Him, Trevor Quachri
The Alternate View, John G. Cramer
In Times To Come
Guest Alternate View, Richard A. Lovett
The Reference Library, Don Sakers
Brass Tacks
Upcoming Events, Anthony Lewis

Asimov’s Science Fiction

Good to see a new Christmas novella from the great Connie Willis — and a nice Christmasy cover.


“Take a Look at the Five and Ten” by Connie Willis


“Christmas at the Hilbert Astoria” by Sam Schreiber
“The Hind” by Kevin J. Anderson and Rick Wilber
“Forger Mr. Z” by Chen Qiufan
“Return from the Stars” by James Gunn
“Pull it from the Root” by Zack Be
“The Long Iapetan Night” by Julie Novakova


“The Mirages” by Alaya Dawn Johnson
“Grief, as Faithful as My Hound” by Marissa Lingen
“Footprint” by Kate Maruyama
“Return to Glory” by Jack McDevitt


After a Year of Solitude, by Lora Gray
Archaeologists Uncover Bones, Bifocals, a Tricycle, by Steven Withrow
Black Box Sonnet #13,041, by Prosperity IV, by Garrison Kammer
Protozoan Pride, by Peter Payack
Let Them Go, by Darrell Schweitzer


Guest Editorial: Where We Came From is Where We’re Going by Allen M. Steele
Reflections: Finding the Mountains of Madness by Robert Silverberg
On the Net: What Information Wants by James Patrick Kelly
Next Issue
On Books by Paul Di Filippo
The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Editor C.C. Finlay publishes issue summaries on Facebook, which has the advantage of preserving the old ones (unlike the editor summaries for Asimov’s and Analog, which vanish from the web the moment the issue goes off sale), but does make them a little harder to find (i.e. it involves a lot of scrolling on Facebook). Here’s the summary for the Nov/Dec issue.

The November/December 2020 issue is now on sale!

David A. Hardy’s cover art illustrates “Skipping Stones in the Dark” by Amman Sabet, a generation ship story that follows an AI’s attempt to provide continuity and maintain social cohesion beyond its original crew. In all, this issue brings you ten new stories, three poems, and all our usual columns and features. Three writers make their first appearance in the magazine.

You can order single copies of this issue by clicking on the “Shop Now” link on our Facebook page. If you’d like to support the magazine and the work we do, please consider subscribing.


“The Bahrain Underground Bazaar” by Nadia Afifi. Bahrain’s Central Bazaar comes to life at night. Lights dance above the narrow passageways, illuminating the stalls with their spices, sacks of lentils, ornate carpets, and trinkets. Other stalls hawk more modern fare, NeuroLync implants and legally ambiguous drones. The scent of cumin and charred meat fills my nostrils. My stomach twists in response. Chemo hasn’t been kind to me.

“La Regina Ratto” by Nick DiChario. Giuseppe spent the first night in his new apartment trying to sleep through the scratching and scuttling noises of small creatures. When he rose the next morning, he saw three rats standing on their hind legs in his kitchen, gazing up at him like shiny-eyed children. “”

“How to Burn Down the Hinterlands” by Lyndsie Manusos. Begin with rage. Begin with the memory of your mother. Her smell, her sounds, her silhouette against the fire. Remember the way she was dragged from your home, taken because she had reached too high, her ambition deemed too great. Because she forged a weapon she shouldn’t have. Remember their promise: that the world would be saved. That this sacrifice was for the greater good. One woman versus the entire kingdom. Was that not an obvious choice? Remember snarling, spitting, and crying in the arms of bigger, lesser men.

“The Glooms” by Matthew Hughes. As Baldemar sculled the little skiff toward the jetty, he thought he saw a figure he recognized, though for the man to be present here in Golathreon was improbable. But the westering sun, down low on the waters of the Sundering Sea, made the gentle waves flash with gold, and all resolution was lost in the auric glare.

“A Tale of Two Witches” by Albert E. Cowdrey. After speaking with the sheriff, Rosie Merckel decided she’d better make a pit stop on the way out of his HQ. “Wouldn’t want to have to go in that house,” she muttered.

“A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse Per School Regulations” by Sarina Dorie. For the last twenty years, my school district has been enforcing mandatory A.L.I.C.E. training drills in case we ever need to safely respond to an emergency, such as intruders, school shootings, or irate parents. I doubt our district ever imagined my sixth-grade class would need to use our training to respond to a zombie apocalypse.

“The Homestake Project” by Cylin Busby. Just after dawn, I drove my rental the three miles from the motel to the Homestake Mine. It was hard to miss, the rolled, dark earth that gave the Black Hills their name, churned and piled at the base of the mountains. I parked the Ford among all the other strictly American cars and made my way into the office.

“On Vapor, Which the Night Condenses” by Gregor Hartmann. The five-armed sea star looked like a toy. It was made of a soft, pliant material with no sharp edges, in happy eye-catching colors that would delight a child. Lying on a workbench, it begged to be touched. Philippa Song thought it was the most adorable murder weapon she’d ever encountered.

“The Silent Partner” by Theodore McCombs. He found something less than a mouse on Mrs. Fowler’s stone front porch as he climbed her stoop to ring the bell. Just the head, worked over by fine cat teeth, and a gristly tuft of throat and dusky belly. Some neighborhood feral was taking good care of the old woman, evidently. He lingered with one foot on the stoop, a little too interested. He bent carefully, wrapped the mouse head in a used tissue, and pocketed it. Then he knocked on the door.

“Skipping Stones in the Dark” by Amman Sabet. The Fold was my embarking name, but there’s nowhere else to set foot anymore. No other starships. So one imagines the pointlessness of a distinct name.
Coursing the black, my humans give birth, grow old, and die within me. They mark distance using the voyage, mark time by how fast a ray of light completes it. The meter and the hour are things of the past, for Earth was left behind many generations ago. They only have each other now. And me.


We hope you’ll share your thoughts about the issue with us.


The Bahrain Underground Bazaar – Nadia Afifi
La Regina Ratto – Nick DiChario
How to Burn Down the Hinterlands – Lyndsie Manusos
The Glooms – Matthew Hughes
A Tale of Two Witches- Albert E. Cowdrey
A Civilized and Orderly Zombie Apocalypse Per School Regulations – Sarina Dorie


The Homestake Project – Cylin Busby
On Vapor, Which the Night Condenses – Gregor Hartmann
The Silent Partner – Theodore McCombs
Skipping Stones in the Dark – Amman Sabet


Least Weird Thing of All – Beth Cato
Mended – Mary Soon Lee
Space Isn’t Like in the Vids – Beth Cato


Books to Look For – Charles de Lint
Musing on Books – Michelle West
Films: Three Degrees of Shirley Jackson – David J. Skal
Science: Is Math Real? – Jerry Oltion
Competition #100
Coming Attractions
Index to Volumes 138 & 139
Curiosities – Paul Di Filippo


Mark Heath, Kendra Allenby, Bill Long


David A. Hardy for “Skipping Stones in the Dark”

Analog, Asimov’s Science Fiction and F&SF are available wherever magazines are sold, and at various online outlets. Buy subscriptions at the links below.

Asimov’s Science Fiction (208 pages, $7.99 per issue, one year sub $47.94 in the US) — edited by Sheila Williams
Analog Science Fiction and Fact (208 pages, $7.99 per issue, one year sub $47.94 in the US) — edited by Trevor Quachri
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (256 pages, $8.99 per issue, one year sub $39.97 in the US) — edited C.C. Finlay

The Nov/Dec issues of Asimov’s and Analog are on sale until December 15, and F&SF until January 4. See our previous coverage of print SF here, and all our recent magazine coverage here.

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Another author we get a double dose of this month is Gregor Hartmann, whose work I have come to appreciate the past year or two. His string of police/detective stories in F&SF have been particularly enjoyable.

Also, any appearance of a new story by Matthew Hughes is a treat and guaranteed to be the first thing I turn to after opening the magazine. I’ve yet to read a story of his I didn’t like.

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