Golems, Intelligent Cars, and Space Age Alternate History: July/August 2021 Print SF Magazines

Golems, Intelligent Cars, and Space Age Alternate History: July/August 2021 Print SF Magazines

July/August 2021 issues of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, and The Magazine
of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Cover art by Shutterstock.com, Tomislav Tikulin, and Alan M. Clark

Short story reviews have been part of the genre since the first SF pulps started publishing letters from young fans in the back pages in the 1920s. What’s different these days is that you can read reviews online, get excited about the current issues, and leisurely make your way to your local bookstore in plenty of time to grab the magazines you want.

That’s a consequence of multiple factors — including the move to bi-monthly publication for most major print zines, and the endurance of review sites like Tangent Online, Locus Online, and Quick Sip Reviews, among others — but it’s largely due to a small group of short fiction reviewers, almost all volunteers, who move quickly to read the latest zines and get thoughtful and well-written coverage posted with all dispatch. Here’s what a few of those folks thought of the July/August genre print magazines.

Here’s Maria Haskins on the newest F&SF at her blog Maria’s Reading.

“Whatever Happened to the Boy Who Fell Into the Lake?” by Rob Costello

I give this story a rating of five broken hearts, meaning, I loved it. Costello’s devastating tale about a boy called Tick, a boy who lives with his violent father; who has lost his mother under mysterious circumstances; and who almost, almost finds love, is beautiful, painful, and powerful. It’s a story about transformation (Tick’s and his mother’s), it’s a story about family and violence, and about curses…

“(emet)” by Lauren Ring

Ring’s story is an enchanting and quietly gripping blend of science fiction and fantasy. The main character is a software programmer working for a big company that is designing a new facial recognition system. She also makes golems out of clay to help her out around the house, just like her mom taught her. I love how Ring weaves together these strands of fantasy and scifi into a story that explores personal responsibility and the possibility to resist, even in situations where a person might feel like only a very small cog in a very big machine.

And here’s Mike Bickerdike on the newest Asimov’s, at Tangent Online.

In “Philly Killed His Car” by Will McIntosh, cars, white goods and household gadgets all have AI, and are partially self-governing in their actions. Philly is in debt, and what with his girlfriend having a baby on the way, he needs to obtain funds by selling his car. But his car, Madeleine, doesn’t want to be sold, and keeps nixing the deal. In desperation, Philly and his friend cook up a deal to obtain the insurance on Madeleine, with unforeseen deleterious consequences. This is quite an amusing tale, and it also delivers some tension and depth…

“Giving Up the Ghost” by Meghan Lindholm is a short fantasy story about a ghost dog who turns up at a pet boarding shop to get the attention of the owner. The story evolves into a bit of a ‘whodunnit’. Characterisation is rather good, which helps to build tension and an emotional response to the dramatic situation as it unfolds. Overall, it’s quite an enjoyable ghost story that will probably appeal particularly to dog lovers.

“Tweak” by Taimur Ahmad is a thought-provoking, superior short story, in which people’s memories can be changed in specialist clinics to ‘improve’ them. Amin decides to tweak his memories artificially in this way, to optimise how certain important scenes in his life seemed to have played out for him. He inevitably tweaks his memories so that he recalls acting more heroically than occurred in real life, but he doesn’t consider the consequences of his actions. It’s an intriguing plot, cleverly developed by Ahmad. The story explores two ideas: firstly, that while our memories may belong to us as individuals, they impact others and we actually share in their value; and secondly, that who we are is an aggregate of our memories. Highly recommended, this is the finest story in this issue of Asimov’s.

Here’s all the details on the latest SF print mags.

Asimov’s Science Fiction

We’ll start with editor Sheila William’s description of the July-August issue.

Asimov’s July/August 2021 issue features a thrilling new novella from Jay O’Connell! Jay’s story is filled with intrigue, danger, and lots of thinking “Outside the Box.” After too long an absence, the dynamic writing duo of Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling return to our pages with their bizarre tale of “Fibonacci’s Humors.” You won’t want to miss these exciting stories.

You won’t want to miss the rest of our amazing line up, either!  Gregory Norman Bossert provides us with an enthralling vision of “The Prisoner’s Cinema”; Fran Wilde redefines what it means to be a “Seed Star”; Gregory Feeley takes us way off planet to look at the future through the eyes of “The Children of the Wind”; L.X. Beckett returns to Earth for the tense tale of “The HazMat Sisters”; new author Taimur Ahmad upends a relationship with a disturbing “Tweak”; Kristine Kathryn Rusch explains a lot about humans while watching extraterrestrials enjoying “Alien Ball”; Will McIntosh shows how life unraveled spectacularly once “Philly Killed His Car”; Michael Swanwick reveals the shocking truth about “Huginn and Muninn and What Came After”; and psychic pet boarder Celtsie unearths the secret to “Giving Up the Ghost” in Megan Lindholm’s eerie new novelette.

Robert Silverberg muses on “Memories of the Space Age” in his latest Reflections column; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net explores “The Tech that SF Made”; Peter Heck’s On Books considers works by Charles Stross, Naomi Novik, Stina Leicht, Sheree Renée Thomas, and others. Plus we’ll have an array of poetry you’re sure to enjoy.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.


“Out of the Box” by Jay O’Connell


“The Prisoner’s Cinema” by Gregory Norman Bossert
“Philly Killed His Car” by Will McIntosh
“The HazMat Sisters” by L.X. Beckett
“Giving Up the Ghost” by Megan Lindholm
“The Children of the Wind” by Gregory Feeley
“Fibonacci’s Humors” by Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling


“Alien Ball” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Seed Star” by Fran Wilde
“Huginn and Muninn — and What Came After” by Michael Swanwick
“Tweak by Taimur” Ahmad


recipe for time travel in case we lose each other by Kristian Macaron
Failed Space Colonists by Herb Kauderer
Holding Destiny by Jane Yolen
Ansibles by Ursula Whitcher


Editorial: The 2021 Dell Magazines Awards by Sheila Williams
Reflections: Memories of the Space Age by Robert Silverberg
On the Net: The Tech that SF Made by James Patrick Kelly
Next Issue
On Books by Peter Heck
The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

Analog Science Fiction & Science Fact

Analog’s editor is Trevor Quachri; here’s his thoughts on the newest issue.

When a crew of pirates decides to rob a ring station, the last thing they’re expecting is a pair of rivals who’ll band together to save everyone… if they don’t kill each other first. All hope lies with… “The Unlikely Heroines of Calisto Station,” from Marie Vibbert. (That blurb works best if you read it in your best “Trailer Guy” voice.)

Our fact article for the issue is a look at Venus as it may have existed in the distant past (and the not-so-distant past of science fiction) in “Return to the Golden Age: Why Venus Might Actually Once Have Been Habitable,” by Richard A. Lovett, and we’ll have a special feature from Edward M. Wysocki, as well as an interview with theoretical cosmologist and author of The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), Katie Mack.

And of course there will be plenty of fantastic fiction, including a Space Age alternate history, in “The Next Frontier” by Rosemary Claire Smith; orbital derring-do that takes on personal significance in C. Stuart Hardwick’s “Sample Return”; a check-in with a much older version of a familiar character, now retired and living in a dome when disaster strikes, in “Long Day Lake.”

Here’s the full TOC.


“The Unlikely Heroines Of Callisto Station,” Marie Vibbert


“The Next Frontier,” Rosemary Claire Smith
“Sample Return,” C. Stuart Hardwick
“Long Day Lake,” Joe Mcdermott

Short Stories

“The Heroes Of The Nation,” Brenda Kalt
“Mandatory Arbitration,” Leonard Richardson
“Siliconisis,” Tom Jolly
“Tin Man,” Edd Vick & Manny Frishberg
“Humility,” James C. Glass
“The Last Farewell,” Alan K. Baker
“Rocket,” Frank Wu
“Reassembly,” Audrey Ference
“Minnie And The Trekker,” Raymund Eich

Flash Fiction

“Seed Bombs,” Juliet Kemp
“The First Martian World War,” Herb Kauderer

Science Fact

Return To The Golden Age: Why Venus Might Actually Once Have Been Habitable, Richard A. Lovett

Special Feature

Taming The Serpent, Edward M. Wysocki, Jr.
Like School, But There’s No Recess: An Interview With Katie Mack, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro


A Daguerreotype Of The Moon, Jennifer Crow
When I Think Of My Father, Bruce McAllister

Reader’s Departments

The 2020 Analytical Laboratory Results
Guest Editorial: Hello To Maturity, John J. Vester
The Alternate View, John G. Cramer
In Times To Come
The Reference Library, Don Sakers
Brass Tacks
Upcoming Events, Anthony Lewis

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

F&SF‘s still-new editor is Sheree Renée Thomas; she posts her thoughts on the issue to Facebook. Here’s her letter to readers for the latest issue.

Dear Readers,
This is my third official issue as the new editor of F&SF, and I am so excited and honored to continue this new journey with such wonderful writers, a dedicated, awesome staff and volunteers! These new stories, poems, columns, art, and voices in the July/August 2021 issue are rich, bold, and memorable, and I’m thrilled to share them with all of you.
Thanks and All Best,
Sheree Renée Thomas

And here’s the Table of Contents.

“Whatever Happened to the Boy Who Fell into the Lake” by Bob Costello
“Dreadnought” by Michael Swanwick
“Her Garden, the Size of Her Palm” by Yukimi Ogawa
“Tulip Fever” by Bo Balder
“(Emet)” by Lauren Ring
“Cat Ladies” by L. X. Beckett
“The Penitent” by Phoenix Alexander
“And For My Next Trick” by Chimedum Ohaegbu
“How to Train Your Demon” by Lisa Lacey Liscomb
“Woman, Soldier, Girl” by Priya Chand
“Bridge For Sale” by S. Cameron David
“Picass-O-Matic” by Paula Keane
“Minotaur” by Maia Brown-Jackson
“Perdition” by Rowan Wren
“Mamá Chayo’s Magic Lesson” by Tato Navarrete Diaz

Analog, Asimov’s Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction are available wherever magazines are sold, and at various online outlets. Buy single issues and subscriptions at the links below.

Asimov’s Science Fiction (208 pages, $7.99 per issue, one year sub $35.97 in the US) — edited by Sheila Williams
Analog Science Fiction and Fact (208 pages, $7.99 per issue, one year sub $35.97 in the US) — edited by Trevor Quachri
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (256 pages, $9.99 per issue, one year sub $39.97 in the US) — edited by Sheree Renée Thomas

The July/August issues of Asimov’s and Analog are on sale until August 17; F&SF until August 30. See our coverage of May/June print SF here, and all our recent magazine coverage here.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x