Space Traders, Backwater Planets, and Rocket Girls: May/June 2022 Print SF Magazines

Space Traders, Backwater Planets, and Rocket Girls: May/June 2022 Print SF Magazines

May/June 2022 issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and
Analog Science Fiction & Fact. Cover art by Alan M. Clark, 123RF, and NASA

There’s a fine batch of print magazines piled on my nightstand this week. But the clear highlight is the return of James Enge’s delightful traveling wizard Morlock Ambrosius, who made his debut in Black Gate 8. “The Hunger” appears in in the pages of F&SF; Sam Tomaino at SF Revu calls it “Richly done fantasy with a lot of detail in so few pages.”

On the thirteenth of Bayring on her world with three moons, Tilsyni escapes her servitude in a house and dares to walk out into Skeleton Park, a very risky venture. She winds up joining a man who looks like an old peddler but is really a warrior named Morlock Ambrosius with a great sword. When animated skeletons attack, Morlock chops them up. But they just come back together. What can they do about them? Morlock finds a way.

The May/June print magazines contain stories by Norman Spinrad, Octavia Cade, Albert Cowdrey, Paul Di Filippo, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Rich Larson, Sheila Finch, R. Garcia y Robertson, James Van Pelt, Bruce McAllister, Robert Reed, Adam-Troy Castro, C.H. Hung, Alice Towey, Jerry Oltion, Sean McMullen, Brendan DuBois, and many others.

The May/June F&SF contains a total of nineteen stories; Sam’s review highlights several others that clearly deserve attention. Here’s a sample.

“The Voice of a Thousand Years” by Fawaz Al-Matrouk

In his shop in Baghdad, Ibn Hashem hears a voice. It is coming from qanun, a stringed instrument he had bought years ago. It seems an alien visiting Earth was dying and could only transfer its spirit into a tree. The tree had been used to make the qanun. Can Ibn Hashem build an automaton to house its spirit? Beautifully written, poignant tale.

“Cold Trade” by Aliya Whiteley

The crew of the Artisan are successful traders. But what can they trade to the natives of this water world, giant solitary creatures who do not even notice them? One of them finds a way. But at what cost? Chilling ending.

“Give Me English” by Ai Jiang

Our narrator who has immigrated from China has had to sell most of her Chinese words. Words are now monetized and can be sold, traded, gambled, etc. This results in the usual inequities. Our narrator finds a way to deal with her problems. Interesting idea. Well written.

“The Canopy” by Norman Spinrad

Christine Schore is a real estate agent and lives on the 59th floor of her condo building. She comes home from work to find the elevator isn’t working. She can’t climb 59 stories but a passing cop offers to take her and some others (for a fee) to a place she can go up. In this near future New York, the government has coerced building owners to make their roof space available to the homeless or others who can’t afford rent. The buildings are connected by walkways and it is all called the Canopy. The people living on the roofs are called Canos. They have to pay to ride elevators up and down but some buildings, like hers, don’t allow even that. So Christine goes on a trip and learns quite a bit. Great story form an old pro.

“The Big Many” by Albert Cowdrey

The day after Dr. Abel Longman retires as head of a hospital and goes to live with his brother disasters begin to hit the world. It is 2084 and the U.S. has mostly recovered from the coasts being flooded by global warming. Here, earthquakes and tsunamis have destroyed the West Coast. Next, asteroids hit what is left of the American West. The impact triggers the volcano at Yellowstone National Park and that is an event like Vesuvius and Krakatoa, causing the deaths of millions. Through it, Abel is on a rescue mission saving his daughter and the man she loves. It’s been too long since I’ve read anything by Cowdrey and I’m glad he’s back. His stories are always great and I want to see more soon.

Read Sam’s complete coverage of May’s SF zines here.

Victoria Silverwolf reviews the latest Analog at Tangent Online.

“Burning the Ladder” by Adam-Troy Castro is the magazine’s only novella. Two women are stationed at a remote desert backwater on an alien world. They have both become indentured to the diplomatic corps as a desperate way to escape even worse lives. Their superior has assigned them to this useless and boring position as a form of punishment for minor offences against her authority. One of the women witnesses an alien child nearly killed by local predators. After saving its life, she learns that it was deliberately set out to die. Due to difficulty in understanding the local culture, the two fail to comprehend the reason for this seemingly cruel act. They attempt to take the child to a place of safety, only to face very difficult decisions when the truth is revealed…

Another abandoned child appears in “Boy in the Key of Forsaken” by Eric Del Carlo. The adult guardian of the title character leaves him alone in a place full of many different kinds of aliens, but no other humans. He becomes involved with beings who grow living starships, eventually taking a misshapen one, meant to be discarded, as his own. Together the two misfits face an impending war. The author creates truly exotic aliens, giving the story an effective sense of strangeness. Despite the threat of war, this is a gentle, heartwarming tale…

In “Firebreak” by Alice Towey, a firefighting drone with artificial intelligence assists a convict who is battling the blaze in an attempt to reduce his sentence. Although just as short as the previous story, it has a more complex plot, and the AI comes across as a clever, thoughtful character, obeying the letter of its instructions while helping the convict find a better life.

In “Beacon” by Sean McMullen, the simulated consciousness of a man who worked on an unmanned interstellar probe wakens to discover itself on the vessel, and that an immense amount of time has gone by. The probe was designed to investigate a signal coming from space, but the source turned out to be much farther away than first thought. Now approaching the source, with hundreds of other simulated human minds aboard, the probe uncovers the extraordinary truth about the signal.. The plot is full of concepts that stretch the reader’s imagination…

“Proof of Concept” by Auston Habershaw is narrated by a blob-like, shapeshifting entity, with part of its memory destroyed by weapons that pierced its body. Unable to recall who attacked it or why, it follows a pair of criminals after a biological weapon, even disguising itself as the object in order to infiltrate the stronghold of their bosses. It turns out that nothing is what it seems to be, as the narrator learns about its own nature and how it was used by others. With the feeling of a hard-boiled crime story, the work creates a complex setting without human characters…

Read Victoria’s complete review here.

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.

Our May/June 2022 issue is a well-stocked barrel of novelettes and short stories. It begins with Evan Marcroft’s harrowing tale of a journey across “Coyoteland.” The issue ends with a new Robert Reed Greatship story, “The Necklace of Memory,” which explores time and retribution. Twelve other excellent tales are stuffed between these two thrilling stories.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch spins a delightful tall tale about “Rocket Girls”; Alice Towey investigates “The Lights That No One Else Can See”; R. Garcia y Robertson captivates with the tale of “Silverado”; stop by James Van Pelt’s “Waylost Café,” and unravel the mystery of “The Abacus and the Infinite Vessel” in Vikram Ramakrishnan’s first story for us. Also new to Asimov’s authors Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki reveals why “Destiny Delayed” might not be a good idea; Ursula Whitcher introduces us to “The New Tutor”; and Andrea Kriz travels through time with “The Leviathan and the Fury.” Sheila Finch decifers messages from “The Wine-Dark Deep”; Bruce McAllister lands the “First Fish”; Zack Be wraps us in “Meryl’s Cocoon”; and Rich Larson brings us to “30”!

Robert Silverberg Reflects on “The Neanderthal Catherdral”; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net bids “Welcome to Screentime”; Kelly Jennings’s On Books reviews works by Octavia Butler, Rivers Solomon, Katherine Addison, James Patrick Kelly, and others; plus we’ll have an array of poetry and additional features you’re sure to enjoy.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.


“Coyoteland” by Evan Marcroft
“Rocket Girls” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“The Last Tutor” by Ursula Whitcher
“The Wine-Dark Deep” by Sheila Finch
“Silverado” by R. Garcia y Robertson
“Meryl’s Cocoon” by Zack Be
“Necklace of Memory” by Robert Reed


“The Lights That No One Else Can See” by Alice Towey
“30” by Rich Larson
“Destiny Delayed” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
“The Leviathan and the Fury” by Andrea Kriz
“The Waylost Café” by James Van Pelt
“The Abacus and the Infinite Vessel” by Vikram Ramakrishnan
“First Fish” by Bruce McAllister


Invisible Tornadoes by Lynne Sargent
Supergirl Doesn’t Look at the Stars by Leslie J. Anderson
Sunlight Loves a Crystalline Structure by Robert Frazier
Leaving the Circus by Bruce Boston
I Recalled Old Earth Last Night in a Dream by RK Rugg
Epilogue of the Chosen One by Michael Meyerhofer


Guest Editorial: Teaching the Metatext by Fran Wilde
Reflections: The Neanderthal Cathedral by Robert Silverberg
On the Net: Welcome to Screentime by James Patrick Kelly
Next Issue
On Books by Kelly Jennings
The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

Analog Science Fiction & Science Fact

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

Not every character strictly needs an origin story — life is rarely that simple. So while next issue’s Andrea Cort tale, “Burning the Ladder” by Adam-Troy Castro, isn’t one, it’s still a formative moment, earlier than any we’ve seen so far, that has big ramifications for the character we’ve come to know. New to the Diplomatic Corp, Andrea struggles to understand the abuse an alien child suffers at the hands of its own species, but she may just learn a painful and permanent lesson that no good deed goes unpunished instead.

Our fact article for the issue is from Raymund Eich, looking at some of the exact logistics of interplanetary colonization, in “The Believers Shall Inherit The Solar System.”

And we’ll have stories including a tale of an old man, his dog, and an environmental reclamation project, in Bud Sparhawk’s “Simple Pleasures”; a trippy (in multiple ways) Probability Zero from Louis Evans, “Gateway Drug”; an unusual pair of firefighters who are more than the sum of their parts in Alice Towey’s “Firebreak”; an orphan making his way in an alien world in Eric Del Carlo’s “A Boy in the Key of Forsaken”; the return of a cunning shape-shifter in Auston Habershaw’s “Proof of Concept”; all-out warfare in Timons Esias’s “Beachhead”; desperate times demand hard choices in A.C. Koch’s “Planetfall”; nearly-forgotten knowledge struggles to be preserved in Jessica Reisman’s “Aconie’s Bees”; and more, from Sean McMullen, Stanley Schimdt, Jerry Oltion, and others!

Here’s the full TOC.


“Burning The Ladder,” Adam-Troy Castro


“Planetfall,” A.c. Koch
“Beacon,” Sean Mcmullen
“Proof Of Concept,” Auston Habershaw
“Simple Pleasures,” Bud Sparhawk

Short Stories

“Boy In The Key Of Forsaken,” Eric Del Carlo
“Faster Than Falling Starlight,” C.H. Hung
“Aconie’s Bees,” Jessica Reisman
“Our Road To Utopia,” Adele Gardner
“Firebreak,” Alice Towey
“Now We’re Talking,” Jerry Oltion
“Beachhead,” Timons Esaias
“Bounty 1486,” Wendy Nikel
“One Way,” Filip Wiltgren
“Retirement Options For Too Successful Space Entrepreneurs,” Brent Baldwin
“Shopping Expedition,” Brendan Dubois
“A Hundred Mouths And A Voice Of Iron,” John Markley

Flash Fiction

“Trajectories Of Maximum Happiness,” Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
“Subsidiary Class 2 Museum Report,” Tim McDaniel

Science Fact

The Believers Shall Inherit The Solar System, Raymund Eich

Special Feature

Yesterday’s Problems, Stanley Schmidt

Probability Zero

“Gateway Drug,” Louis Evans


Fay Ajzenberg-Selove, Jessy Randall
Constellations, Alex Pickens

Reader’s Departments

Editorial: The Play’s The Thing, Trevor Quachri
In Times To Come
The Alternate View, John G. Cramer
Biolog: Louis Evans, Richard A. Lovett
Guest Alternate View, Richard A. Lovett
Guest Reference Library, Kathy Oltion
Guest Reference Library, Charles Q. Choi
Brass Tacks
Upcoming Events, Anthony Lewis

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

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

Greetings readers,

The new May/June 2022 is on sale now! This is my eighth issue as the new editor of F&SF. The new issue features some wonderful new voices and celebrated legends, such as Albert E. Cowdrey, James Enge, and Norman Spinrad. Our new cover by Alan M. Clarke illustrates the cover story, “The Canopy” by Norman Spinrad. There are some great stories, poems, art, and columns that I hope you enjoy.

Thank you for your kind letters and for helping to nominate me as a 2022 Hugo Award Finalist in the Best Editor, Short Form category with such amazing editors. This will be my first Hugo nomination, and I do hope I’ll make it to Chicago in September and get to meet some of you at Chicon 8/Worldcon. As always, we appreciate your subscriptions, reviews, original story submissions, and word-of-mouth! Continued thanks to our wonderful F&SF team, some of whom will see their extended family for the first time since the global pandemic began, and thanks to our publisher, Gordon Van Gelder!

All best,

Sheree Renée Thomas

And here’s the Table of Contents.


“The Canopy” Norman Spinrad
“The Big Many” Alfred E. Cowdrey

Short Stories

“The Voice Of A Thousand Years,” by Fawaz Al-matrouk
“Cold Trade,” by Aliya Whiteley
“Give Me English,” by Ai Jiang
“Green Street,” by S. R. Mandel
“Breathless In The Green,” by Octavia Cade
“Ninety-five Percent Of The Ocean,” by Jennifer Hudak
“The Hunger,” by James Enge
“The Mechanic,” by Julie Le Blanc
“Modern Cassandra,” by Julia August
“An Ill-fated Girl Happens To Meet An Ill-fated Man,” by P. H. Lee
“Nightmares Come From Stolen Dreams,” by Taemumu Richardson
“The Angel’s Call,” by Jae Steinbacher
“Mother, Mother,” by Shreya Ila Anasuya
“L’enfant Terrible,” by Mark H. Huston
“The True Meaning Of Father’s Day,” by John Wiswell


The Shapeshifter’s Lover, Oluwatatomiwa Ajeigbe
The Children Of Night, Oluwatatomiwa Ajeigbe
Abiku, Oluwatatomiwa Ajeigbe


Editorial: Tapestry From An Asteroid By Sheree Renée Thomas
Books To Look For By Charles De Lint
Books By James Sallis
Films: Little Fish By Karin Lowachee
Plumage From Pegasus: The Name Is Bond By Paul Di Filippo
Coming Attractions
Competition #103 By Carol Pinchefsky
Science: The Asteroid Age By Jerry Oltion
Curiosities By Paul Di Filippo


By Arthur Masear, Nick Downes, Mark Heath, and Bill Long

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 May/June issues of Asimov’s and Analog are on sale until June 14; F&SF until June 27. See our coverage of the March/April print SF here, and all our recent magazine coverage here.

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