Alien Warfare, Gunwrights, and Cyborg Hobos: January/February Print SF Magazines

Alien Warfare, Gunwrights, and Cyborg Hobos: January/February Print SF Magazines

I haven’t had time to jump into my plaguemobile and navigate all the pandemic roadblocks and decontamination checkpoints to get to Barnes & Noble to pick up the latest print magazines. But according to what I’ve read online, I don’t have any choice… looks like these are can’t-miss issues. Here’s what Michelle Ristuccia at Tangent Online said about the latest issue of Asimov’s SF.

American combat veteran Sylvia Aldstatt is the only person on Earth who can search dead criminal Dimitrios’ memories for crucial intel in “A Rocket for Dimitrios” by Ray Nayler. Racing against the ticking clock of decomposing neural pathways, Sylvia Aldstatt investigates Dimitrios’ claim of a second crashed extraterrestrial ship… Nayler brings readers an adventure that’s as immersive as it is thought-provoking. “A Rocket for Dimitrios,” stands alone as an engaging and accessible novella for all genre readers, but spy novel enthusiasts will recognize the nod to Eric Ambler’s classic 1967 novel, A Coffin for Dimitrios. Readers who want more of Nayler’s fascinating alternative history SF can find Sylvia Aldstatt in “The Disintegration Loops,” published first in Asimov’s Nov/Dec 2019 issue and also now available on Ray Nayler’s website…

Suzanne Palmer brings readers a delightfully comedic who-done-it set on a menagerie of a space station in “Table Etiquette for Diplomatic Personnel, in Seventeen Scenes.” Through Palmer’s strategic humor, readers soon identify the obnoxious Joxto as the main antagonists of newly appointed Station Commander Niagara, though she has yet to meet the infamous aliens herself. She’ll get her chance soon enough… Palmer brings her station and the larger universe to life through the POV’s of several station inhabitants, painting readers a vivid picture through casually dropped space lore, a melting pot of clashing cultures, and truly alien extraterrestrials who resemble sea cucumbers, birds, and overly curious pumas. Running jokes and excellent comedic timing provide an enthralling mix of slap stick and sitcom drama…

The moment after Lieutenant Balázs’ starship bridge is breached and most of its bridge crew incapacitated, “Hunches” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch begins. Reeling from the unexpected attack, Balázs soon realizes he is the only crew member left conscious on the bridge.. Rusch brings us an action-packed story of split-second decisions and willing sacrifice, of heroic acts performed in the absence of sufficient information but with the help of a little luck and a lot of perseverance…

Here’s all the details.

Asimov’s Science Fiction

Let’s start with editor Sheila Williams’ issue description from the website.

Our January/February 2021 cover story, “A Rocket for Dimitrios,” is Ray Nayler’s first novella. Set in an alternate fifties influenced by dangerous alien technology, it’s filled with intrigue and deception. The issue also features an exciting great-ship novella by Robert Reed. In “The Realms of Water,” an ancient human traveler meets an even older warrior. You won’t soon forget this account of alien warfare and the Great Surus.

Ted Kosmatka plays the odds in “Shy Sarah and the Draft Pick Lottery”; the importance of “Table Etiquette for Diplomatic Personnel, in Seventeen Scenes” is revealed in Suzanne Palmer’s captivating mystery; new author Robert H. Cloake considers  “The Fear of Missing Out”; new author Sean William Swanwick examines the motives of “Humans and Other People”; and Nick Wolven’s moving story leaves “No Stone Unturned.” Join “The Three-Day Hunt” with Robert R. Chase; learn why “I Didn’t Buy It” from Naomi Kanakia; unravel a bureaucratic nightmare in Fran Wilde’s otherwise charming “Mayor for Today”; and find out whether a young crewmember should trust his “Hunches” in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s thrilling new tale.

Robert Silverberg’s Reflections column celebrates “One Hundred Years of Robots”; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net takes a look at humor and asks if we “Get It?”; Norman Spinrad’s On Books is “Out There” with Alan Dean Foster, James Gunn, and Brandon Q. Morris; plus we have an array of poetry and other features.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.


“Rocket for Dimitrios” by Ray Nayler
“The Realms of Water” by Robert Reed


“No Stone Unturned” by Nick Wolven
“Table Etiquette for Diplomatic Personnel, in Seventeen Scenes” by Suzanne Palmer
“Hunches” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Shy Sarah and the Draft Pick Lottery” by Ted Kosmatka
“Mayor for Today” by Fran Wilde


“The Fear of Missing Out” by Robert H. Cloake
“The Three-Day Hunt” by Robert R. Chase
“Humans and Other People” by Sean William Swanwick
“I Didn’t Buy It” by Naomi Kanakia


Mars Rover, Curiosity by Jane Yolen
The Papier Mâché Girl by Jane Yolen
The Pig, Wilbur, to his Grandsons by Leslie J. Anderson
Within You and Without You by Robert Frazier
When I’m Thirty I Receive a Box Full of Your Steel Bones by Avra Margariti


Editorial: A Magical Erie Sheila Williams
Reflections: One Hundred Years of Robots by Robert Silverberg
On the Net: GET IT? by James Patrick Kelly
In Memoriam: Mike Resnick
Next Issue
On Books by Paul Di Filippo
Thirty-Fifth Annual Readers’ Award Ballot
2020 Index
The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact

Next up, Analog. Here’s editor Trevor Quachri’s  issue description.

New year, new stories! We start 2021 with a look at an unusual living arrangement creating stresses on a relationship in “Mixed Marriage” by Dan Helms; then we have a hardboiled slice of fiction in which a protagonist with “a certain set of skills” sets out to discover who murdered a friend and mentor, even when doing so seems to run counter to “The Will of The Gods,” by Charles Q. Choi.

Our first fact article of the year gets into the nitty-gritty of one of the most ambitious projects humans can undertake: “Constructing a Habitable Planet” by Julie Novakova.

And of course we have an abundance of other stories, from the unequal relationship in Harry Turtledove’s “My Hypothetical Friend” to the complicated rebellion of Nick Wolven’s “The Liberator,” plus more from Norman Spinrad, Deborah L. Davitt, Raymund Eich, Jerry Oltion, Em Liu, and others, as well as all our regular columns.

Here’s the complete TOC.


“Mixed Marriage,” Dan Helms
“A Shot In The Dark,” Deborah L. Davitt
“The Liberator,” Nick Wolven
“The Nocturnal Preoccupations Of Moths,” J. Northcutt, Jr.
“Belle Lettres Ad Astra,” Norman Spinrad
“By The Will Of The Gods,” Charles Q. Choi


“My Hypothetical Friend,” Harry Turtledove
“Photometric Evidence Of The Gravitational Lensing Of Sao23820 By A Nonluminous Low-mass Stellar Object,” Jay Werkheiser
“Conference Of The Birds,” Benjamin C. Kinney
“Interstellar Pantomime,” Martin Dimkovski
“Matter And Time Conspire,” Sandy Parsons
“The Tale Of Anise And Basil,” Daniel James Peterson
“The Practitioner,” Em Liu
‘”What Were You Thinking?,” Jerry Oltion
“Changing Eyes,” Douglas P. Marx
“A Working Dog,” Anne M. Gibson
“So You Want To Be A Guardian Angel,” Michael Meyerhofer
“Choose One,” Marie Desjardin
“We Remembered Better,” Evan Dicken
“The Last Compact,” Brian Rappatta
“Riddlepigs And The Cryla,” Raymund Eich


The Last Science Fiction Story, Adam-troy Castro


Constructing A Habitable Planet, Julie Novakova


Hidden Things, Jennifer Crow
If, Bruce Mcallister


Guest Editorial: Monumental Thinking, Rosemary Claire Smith
Biolog: Julie Novakova, Richard A. Lovett
In Times To Come
The Alternate View, John G. Cramer
The Reference Library, Don Sakers
Brass Tacks
2020 Index
Analytical Laboratory Ballot
Upcoming Events, Anthony Lewis

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Big changes at F&SF this issue — it’s the end of Charlie Finley’s six-year tenure at the magazine, as he hands the editorial reins over to Sheree Renée Thomas. Charlie shared a few thoughts on Facebook:

Happy New Year! The Jan/Feb 2021 issue of F&SF goes on sale today. You can find at in Barnes & Noble and many independent bookstores and newsstands. We also sell electronic subscriptions via Amazon and Weightless Books, and you can buy a single copy of this issue at Weightless.

This is my 37th and final issue as Editor, and it’s filled with excellent writers and work. Thank you for reading these past 6+ years. Our new editor Sheree Renée Thomas has more great writing ahead for you, and I am looking forward to returning as a reader, to open each issue prepared to be surprised and amazed.

The table of contents can be found below. Enjoy.

C.C. Finlay

As for the issue itself, it’s got stories by Black Gate favorite Jonathan L. Howard, plus Karen Joy Fowler, Lavie Tidhar, James Morrow, Susan Palwick, John Kessel, Robert Reed, and lots more. Here’s an excerpt from Kevin P Hallett’s Tangent review.

“Interludes With the Gunwright” by Jonathan L. Howard

A well-renowned gunwright meets a soldier of fortune in this post-apocalypse SF novelette. The soldier needs weapons to seek her fortune but lacks the funds to buy them. The gunwright offers some weapons on loan, and thus a trusting relationship is established between the two accomplished women… an engaging read of two disparate women making a place in the recovering world for themselves.

“The Dark Ride” by John Kessel

Leon is determined to kill President McKinley in this fantasy novella set in Buffalo, NY during 1901. He has come to the Pan-American exposition to rid America of this President who represents all the evils of corporate greed… Quickly, he finds himself thrown into a similar fight for the freedom of enslaved humans on the moon… a mystery that kept the reader engaged.

“N-Raptured” by Justin C. Key

The author set this SF short in a future where an unknown power has scarred people with one ‘N’ for each time they used the N-word. When they earn the seventh ‘N’, the mysterious force metamorphosizes them into a rat. On the day it all started, America had an immediate rat problem… a bizarre and entertaining story that took the chance to explore a few ideas about today’s socially acceptable practices.

“Wild Geese” by Lavie Tidhar

Tidhar sets this short SF in a future where people are cyborgs, and all equipment is autonomous. Efrem is a hobo on the outskirts of the Gobi with their friend Avi. They’ve heard the wild geese have been spotted deep in the desert, and they convince Avi to go and find them… This story painted an image of a strange and hard to comprehend world where humanity’s remnants have left to explore the stars, and those left behind learn to get by.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.


“The Dark Ride” – John Kessel


“Interludes with the Gunwright” – Jonathan L. Howard
“Bible Stories for Adults, No. 51: The Great Fish” – James Morrow


“Integral Nothings” – Robert Reed
“The Diamond Family Glitters” – H. Pueyo
“A Little Knife Music” – Jenn Reese
“N-raptured” – Justin C. Key
“Hard!” – Van Aaron Hughes
“Litter Witch” – Susan Palwick
“Wild Geese” – Lavie Tidhar
“The Piper” – Karen Joy Fowler


Annabel Digs Her Own Grave – Gretchen Tessmer


Books To Look For – Charles de Lint
Books – Elizabeth Hand
Games: Yakuza! – Marc Laidlaw
Films: Ending Things The Kaufman Way – Karin Lowachee
Science: How Fast Are We Going? – Jerry Oltion
Plumage From Pegasus: You Make the Best of What’s Still Around – Paul Di Filippo
Coming Attractions –
Curiosities – Thomas Kaufsek


Ali Solomon, Arthur Masear, Kendra Allenby.


Kent Bash

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 January/February issues of Asimov’s and Analog are on sale until mid-February, and F&SF until February 22. See our previous coverage of print SF here, and all our recent magazine coverage here.

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