Neutron Stars, Dead Brains, and an AI in a Prison Colony: January/February 2022 Print SF Magazines

Neutron Stars, Dead Brains, and an AI in a Prison Colony: January/February 2022 Print SF Magazines

January/February 2022 issues of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, and The
Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Cover art by Dominic Harman, Eldar Zakirov, and Kent Bash

There’s a good mix of covers for this month’s crop of print magazines. All except F&F, an ugly piece which prominently features a man smoking. I haven’t seen SF heroes smoking on covers for a very long time; seeing it now, in 2022, is a major disappointment. I have absolutely no interest in that at Black Gate; this is the first time we’ve showcased a cover with smoking in well over a decade (and probably longer). Don’t expect to see it again.

Other than that blemish, the January/February print magazines have the usual mix of intriguing contributors, including Michael Swanwick, Tom Purdom, A.A. Attanasio, Ian Creasey, Nick Wolven, Tony Ballantyne, Adam-Troy Castro, Stephen L. Burns, Eugie Foster, Bogi Takács, M. L. Clark, Karen Heuler, and many others.

Victoria Silverwolf at Tangent Online has been doing a fine job discussing Asimov’s and Analog for the past half-decade. Here’s her thoughts on the latest Asimov’s.

“River of Stars, Bridge of Shadows” by A.A. Attanasio is a difficult story to synopsize, given its exotic far future setting and the author’s frequent use of neologisms. Suffice to say that the basic plot concerns a starship about to be destroyed by a neutron star, and the young woman who struggles to save the lives of those aboard. This does not even offer a hint of the story’s strange background and bizarre characters, including human beings who have become sentient plasmas…

In “The Roots of Our Memories” by Joel Armstrong, fungal connections between the brains of dead bodies in cemeteries and hemlock trees allow people to experience the recorded thoughts of the deceased, and even engage in a limited form of communication with them. The narrator works at such a cemetery, and helps a young woman get in contact with her dead grandmother…

“Unmasking Black Bart” by Joel Richards takes place at a time in the near future when wearing holographic masks is a popular fad. The main character attends a high school reunion wearing the face of his teenage self, and tries to figure out if an old acquaintance is the person who has been robbing banks while disguised as a notorious criminal of the Old West…

“The Beast of Tara” by Michael Swanwick involves a team of scientists in Ireland, working to recover sounds of the distant past from the traces they left in rocks. A young man shows up, claiming to be working for a school newspaper. He keeps messing up the equipment, seemingly by accident, until his real identity and motive are revealed…

“Goldie” by Sean Monaghan takes place on an alien world where high plateaus alternate with deep valleys. Gigantic animals, something like sloths the size of whales, crawl along the huge vines between the plateaus. Human scientists study the planet’s ecology, particularly the symbiotic relationship between the massive beasts and the world’s plant life. The climax involves the team’s senior member, who has been investigating the place for many years, and one of the enormous creatures, who is at the end of its life…

Read Victoria’s complete review here.

Kevin P Hallett covers the new F&SF at Tangent Online. Here’s the highlights.

“Animale Dei Morti” by Nick DiChario

Marco’s wedding will be cursed in this fantasy novelette unless Marco can bring his big brother back from the recent dead. Tradition requires his brother to be his best man, and the only solution is to pay the village witch’s price to reanimate Franco, who died last night in a knife fight. But the witch’s sneaky price is difficult to pay, and things go wrong quickly as Franco messes up the wedding reception and goes after the man who killed him. It isn’t long before Marco returns to the witch for more help. But knowing how devious she is, the price will not be easy to pay…

“Prison Colony Optimization Protocols” by Auston Habershaw

Roxie is an AI in this SF novelette when the authorities sentence her to operate a prison colony on a remote planet. Her directive is to make the prison as efficient and safe as possible, and she enthusiastically begins her tasks. This is the first time she interacts with humans and finds her creators slow and predominantly stupid. Still, she devises several schemes to reduce injuries or improve productivity. But all her requests are denied by the prison’s warden, who reminds her that the authorities are punishing her too…

“Full Worm Moon” by Paul Lorello

The author sets this short fantasy/horror story with people who go out on each full Moon. They dig up and eat the worms at fresh graves, which allows them to take on the persona of the deceased. On Dom’s first worm moon, he overindulges and becomes locked in the dead man’s persona. The new feelings pull him away from his clan, forcing him to try and live in the world of normal people. Worse, he finds himself in love with the wife of the man he now emulates…

“The City and the Thing Beneath It” by Innocent Chizaram Ilo

The setting for this short SF is Lagos, Nigeria. Shortly after the Supreme Leader completes a brutal crackdown on protesters, a mysterious object falls from the sky into Lagos Lagoon. Many stories circulate the city while the Supreme Leader tells people it was the work of rebels to justify further brutality by his soldiers. But it is hard to suppress the hopes and fears of the people even as the thing begins its own insidious penetration of the city…

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

Asimov’s Science Fiction

I always enjoy editor Sheila Williams’ issue summaries on their website. Here’s her thoughts on the new issue.

Start 2022 off with two huge novellas! We’ve crammed our January/February 2022 issue to bursting. Nick Wolven spins a powerful tale about the cutthroat world of a touring rock band in the not too distant future. You won’t want to miss “Snowflake.” Discover an evocative alien landscape and a truly alien teppu in Sean Monaghan’s “Goldie.” On Karella, a human team must learn how to work together while uncovering the planet’s secrets.

A tense group of individuals must figure out how to resolve a “Long-Term Emergency” in Tom Purdom’s new tale; any hope for survival will depend on a great deal of skill and cunning in A.A. Attanasio’s “River of Stars, Bridge of Shadows”; a “Welcome Home” unsettles in new author Jendayi Brooks-Flemister’s short story; Joel Armstrong, who is also new to Asimov’s, digs deep to unearth “The Roots of Memory”; Ian Creasey paints a portrait of a dangerous form of time travel in “Fasterpiece”; Michèle Laframboise whips up a gastronomic tale of planetary exploration and “October’s Feast”; Stephanie Feldman terrifies as she leads us into “The Boyfriend Trap”; Joel Richards has fun “Unmasking Black Bart”; and Michael Swanwick excavates “The Beasts of Tara.”

Robert Silverberg’s Reflections considers the consequences of “Fifty Million Monkey Selfies”; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net weighs in on “Good Bots and Bad”; and Peter Heck reviews Terry Miles, Peter F. Hamilton, Jeffrey Kluger, Emily C. Skaftun, Jane Yolen, and others. Plus we’ll have our 2021 Index, Readers’ Award ballot, and an array of poetry you’re sure to enjoy.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.


“Snowflake” by Nick Wolven
“Goldie” by Sean Monaghan


“River of Stars, Bridge of Shadows” by A.A. Attanasio
“October’s Feast” by Michèle Laframboise
“Fasterpiece” by Ian Creasey


“Welcome Home” by Jendayi Brooks-Flemister
“The Roots of Our Memories” by Joel Armstrong
“Unmasking Black Bart” by Joel Richards
“The Beast of Tara” by Michael Swanwick
“Long-Term Emergencies” by Tom Purdom
The Boyfriend Trap by Stephanie Feldman


Robot Valentine by Peter Tacy
Word Soup by Anatoly Belilovsky
Speech Lesson by Robert Frazier
Messaging the Dead by Betsy Aoki


Editorial: Looking Backward by Sheila Williams
Reflections: Fifty Million Monkey Selfies by Robert Silverberg
On the Net: Good Bots and Bad by James Patrick Kelly
Next Issue
On Books by Peter Heck
Thirty-Sixth Annual Readers’ Award Ballot
2021 Index
The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

Analog Science Fiction & Science Fact

Editor Trevor Quachri gives us a nice issue summary, as usual.

New year, new issue! We start things off with a bang, in the form of a novella from a titanic team-up: in the aftermath of a disaster, the survivors have to discover a way to communicate with a most alien life form or die trying. My intentionally vague description doesn’t do it justice, as you’ll find out in “Communion,” by Frank Wu and Jay Werkheiser.

Our fact article for the issue also comes from Jay Werkheiser, in the form of a Science Behind the Story on Kepler’s Laws, concluding in this very issue, and we have a “speculative history” Special Feature, in Brishti Guha’s “The Robots of Ancient India.”

We also, of course, have a wide array of stories, from androids fighting pirates in Tom Jolly’s “Cloudchaser” and a potentially other-worldy trap in Tony Ballantyne’s “The Lobster Pot” to a high-stakes heist in Raymund Eich’s “A Fistful of Monopoles” and some environmental justice in “Yellow Boots” from Stephen L. Burns, as well as plenty more, from Liz A. Vogel, Megan Hyland, and others.

Here’s the full TOC.


“Communion,” Jay Werkheiser & Frank Wu


“The Lobster Pot,” Tony Ballantyne
“Wind Gets Her Own Place,” Joe M. McDermott
“Cloudchaser,” Tom Jolly

Short Stories

“Splitting A Dollar,” Meghan Hyland
“Charioteer,” Ted Rabinowitz
“Orientation,” Adam-Troy Castro
“By The Lake Where We First Loved,” Paul Starkey
“The Bumblebee And The Berry,” M. Bennardo
“The Way Back,” Jen Downes
“Dix Dayton And The Miner From Mars,” Liz A. Vogel
“Doe No Harm,” Louis Evans
“Yellow Boots,” Stephen L. Burns
“A Living Planet,” Benjamin C. Kinney
“Patience,” David Cederstrom
“The Middle Of Nowhere,” Rachel S. Bernstein
“A Fistful Of Monopoles,” Raymund Eich

Flash Fiction

“Soroboruo Harbormaster’s Log,” David Whitaker
“On The Rocks,” Ian Randal Strock

Science Fact

“The Science Behind Kepler’s Laws,” Jay Werkheiser

Special Feature

Science Fiction Meets Science Fact: The Robots Of Ancient India, Brishti Guha


Ham, Holly Day
What Once Was Pitch Black, G.O. Clark

Reader’s Departments

Guest Editorial: The (Sometimes) Reality Of “i Told You So,” Richard A. Lovett
In Times To Come
The Alternate View, John G. Cramer
Guest Reference Library, Sean Cw Korsgaard
Guest Reference Library, Shinjini Dey
Brass Tacks
2021 Index
Analytical Laboratory Ballot
Upcoming Events, Anthony Lewis

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

F&SF 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, we hope the new year is treating you well!

The January/February 2022 is ON SALE NOW and has been seen at bookstores and winging its way to mailboxes out in the wild!

This is my sixth issue and it features a wonderfully fun cover story by Nick DiChario, “Animale Dei Morti,” one of his original Italian fairy/folktales. The cool retro-cover art is by Kent Bash. We also have a beautiful new story from the late Eugie Foster as well as new stories from writers we hope you love and new poetry by Bogi Takács as well as new columns from your favorites!

Thank you for sharing your photos with the new issues and for your kind letters. We appreciate your subscriptions, reviews, submissions, and word-of-mouth! Many thanks to the wonderful F&SF team as well as our tireless publisher, Gordon Van Gelder!

We love subscriptions! Subscriptions are available from these places:

Print subscriptions from

And here’s the Table of Contents.


“The Art of the Victory When the Game is All the World” by Eugie Foster


“Animale Dei Morti” by Nick DiChario
“Bone Broth” by Karen Heuler
“Prison Colony Optimization Protocols” by Auston Habershaw
“The Gentle Dragon Tells His Tale of Love” by J. A. Pak

Short Stories

“Ennead in Retrospect” by Christopher Mark Rose
“Full Worm Moon” by Paul Lorello
“Proximity Games” by M. L. Clark
“Salt Calls to Salt” by Maiga Doocy
“doe_haven.vr” by Cara Mast
“The City and the Thing Beneath It” by Innocent Chizaram Ilo
“There Won’t be Questions” by Joe Baumann


Advhena Magnifica, by Bogi Takács
Land Earthside, by Bogi Takács
Le Coup de Foudre, by Gretchen Tessmer


“Editorial: Watch Night” by Sheree Renée Thomas
“Books To Look For” by Charles de Lint
“Musing on Books” by Michelle West
“Films: The Mythic Weird” by Karin Lowachee
“Science: The Ladder of Time” by Jerry Oltion
“Plumage from Pegasus: Take a Letter, Maria” by Paul Di Filippo
“Curiosities” by Pan Morigan
“Coming Attractions”


By Mark Heath, Ali Solomon, Arthur Masear, and Nick Downes

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 January/February issues of Asimov’s and Analog are on sale until February 15; F&SF until February 21. See our coverage of the November/December print SF here, and all our recent magazine coverage here.

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Robert Adam Gilmour

Interesting to see Attanasio in there, he hasn’t had anything printed in quite some time.

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