July/August 2022 issues of Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Cover art by Donato Giancola, Eldar Zakirov, and Alan M. Clark
It’s marvelous to see a cover by the great Donato Giancola on Analog, of all places. Donato did one cover for Black Gate, our famous Red Sonja cover for Black Gate 15, our special Warrior Women issue. Analog‘s last cover was by NASA, the inside of a satellite or reactor or Easy Bake oven or something. This one is much cooler.
Shipping problems have delayed the arrival of this month’s F&SF, so I don’t have a copy in my hot little hands in time to do this article (again), but Tangent Online has the Table of Contents, so I can fake it. There’s lots of good reading in this month’s print SF mags, including stories by Jerry Oltion, Sean Monaghan, Bruce McAllister, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Rick Wilber, Will McIntosh, Michael Swanwick, Octavia Cade, Jack McDevitt, Paul Melko, Nick Wolven, James L. Sutter, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and many others. Let’s dive in.
Victoria Silverwolf reviews the latest Analog at Tangent Online, including tale of Blob monsters, asteroid mining, killer machines, all-powerful AIs, the far future, and feral cars wandering a post-apocalyptic landscape.
The narrator of “Punctuated Equilibrium” by Auston Habershaw is a blob-like shapeshifter, thought to lack intelligence by those who use others of its kind as garbage disposals. It currently lives secretly in a wealthy man’s garden, disguised as a water plant, where it devours the dead bodies of the man’s enemies. (They are routinely tossed into the pond after being killed in duels.)
Content with this lifestyle, it becomes disturbed when an assassin leaves traps for the man, which it disables. Matters get more complicated when the assassin discovers the shapeshifter’s true nature. The narrator’s interactions with humans and humanoids are of great interest, and provide more than a little dark humor. Its motives and its views of other beings are an intriguing mixture of naivety and cynicism, making for enjoyable reading.
The title of “Rare Earths Pineapple” by Michèle Laframboise refers to a piece of an extremely heavy but surprisingly stable trans-uranium element found inside an asteroid being mined for minerals. It promises to be incredibly valuable, but holds a dangerous secret. The story’s premise is believable, and the revelation about why it exists adds a touch of irony…
“The Mercy of the Sandsea” by T.L. Huchu features an ex-soldier, part of a unit that was formerly comprised of heroes but are now thought of as genocidal criminals, hiding under an assumed identity on a planet dominated by deadly oceans of sand. A killer machine stalks him for revenge. He must put on an old war suit in an attempt to survive the attack of the far more powerful device. As can be told, this is a grim, violent tale, full of suspenseful scenes of battle with enemies both natural and artificial. The setting is more intriguing than the action-filled plot…
The narrator of “My Nascent Garden” by Melanie Harding-Shaw is an all-powerful artificial intelligence in charge of a city. It is capable of creating great beauty for its citizens, but can also ruthlessly kill those who do not fit its ideas of maximum efficiency. The plot deals with its interactions with an assistant who helps it communicate with people, and a schoolteacher who was a strong advocate of the AI until she discovered its murderous ways. The story’s resolution is a combination of hope and violence, which some readers may find disturbing. The narrator is compelling, if very unnerving…
“Inside Out” by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro is a tiny account of humans in the extremely far future, evolved into connected minds, who explore a black hole. What they find shakes up their assumptions about their existence. This very brief work is best appreciated for its vision of a time far beyond our own, and as a lecture on astrophysics.
“Where the Buffalo Cars Roam” by David Cleden takes place at a time when civilization has fallen apart to the point where small groups of people live agrarian lives, scavenging for the metals used by the inhabitants of earlier times. Automated cars still wander the wasteland, apparently with desires of their own. People destroy them for their valuable components when they can, and the vehicles fight back. The narrator witnesses a battle between two automobiles as a child. Years later, he encounters one of the same cars, leading to an unlikely change in their roles.
Despite its futuristic content, this story has the feeling of a Western. The cars can be seen as wild animals, deadly but enviable for their freedom. Readers with a romantic feeling for automobiles will best appreciate this tale.
Read Victoria’s complete review here.
Sam Tomaino reviews the new Asimov’s for SFRevu.
The fiction begins with the novelette, “Work Minus Eighty” by Will McIntosh — This story is set in the world of McIntosh’s novel Love Minus Eighty which was based on his Hugo Award-winning short story “Bridesicle” in the January 2009 issue. Women who are not well off and do not have insurance can, if they are accepted into the program at a place like Cryomed, the setting of our story, can be frozen and revived at times for dates with rich men who spend millions to restore and revive them so they can marry them. They have dates and the women need to win these men over. The frozen women are called Minus Eighty and pejoratively called “bridesicles.”
Aurelia De Aza works at Cryomed and makes enough money to support her large family and bring them out of poverty. She had grown up suburban and had managed to shed her accent. One of Cryomed’s latest Residents is Helen Carson who was Aurelia’s best friend in high school. She was murdered and revived to identify her murderer and then frozen. She was accepted into the program and Aurelia tries to coach her on how to attract a rich man. If she does not have enough dates, she is terminated and buried. But Helen still has her suburban accent and tough demeanor and things do not go well. I liked the original story back then. I like this one even better. Great story and one that will be on my short list for Best Novelette Hugo next year.
“Reservoir Ice” by Michael Swanwick — Matt learns how to travel through time and uses it to repair his relationship with Laura. But things don’t stop there and when he publishes his paper on time travel, everyone is doing it. Wild, fun story.
“Screaming Fire” by Michèle Laframboise– The story we are told is part of Laframboise’s Gardener series of YA novels. The Gardeners are a race that appears to be connected to plant life. There is some sort of war with the aliens known as humans. Commander Lar Dzuinn is in charge of a fleet of evac dropships for a planet that has been devastated by the humans. There are not many survivors. Dzuinn is investigating a human drone that they had shot down when he hears a cry. It is a baby and he goes to great lengths to rescue it. The baby has a blanket with a name on it, Plezar. His cries are very loud. As the story is called a prequel, I assume Plezar grows up to be important. Good story with some details about the people.
“The Secret of Silphium” by Megha Spinel — In 92 B.C., Cyrene, a Jewish scholar can work wonders with the herb silphium. He reads scrolls in his shop while Tamra, a young woman he bought as a slave but treats like a sister, translates scrolls from Greek to Hebrew. She is a genius. Others become involved with them, a former slave whose scholar master was murdered, a noblewoman from beyond the Indus Valley, and a Roman officer. Trying to communicate with them is an alien known as the Entity. This all comes together for a great story.
The issue concludes with the novella, “The Goose” by Rick Wilber — While this is a sort of sequel to Wilbur’s “Billie the Kid” in the September/October 2021 issue, It is taking place, mostly, four years before that story. Here, Edna, “Eddie” Bennett escapes from a repressive 2041 America to travel back to mid-1941 America where the German Bund is active and has plans for attacks and a coup. Billie “The Kid” Davis is just fifteen years old and Eddie realizes she is at the “inflection point” to make sure things go the right way on December 7, 1941. Eddie makes sure that Billie is recruited by the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League and things go on from there.
Eddie does more than that, sleeping with the Gestapo agent and also with an old familiar baseball-playing friend. It all comes to a head on an alternate December 7, 1941. Another great story from Wilber.
Read Sam’s complete article here.
Mike Bickerdike has some fine coverage of the latest F&SF at Tangent.
This issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction contains 4 novelettes and 8 short stories. The standard is reasonably high, with rather a focus this month on horror fantasy; at least 4 stories could be classified as such.
“Starblind, Booklost, and Hearing the Songs of True Birds” by Rudi Dornemann is a strange fantasy novelette, full of interesting ideas and novel concepts, but which ultimately leaves the reader with as many questions as answers. Vitalius lives in the city of Fisher, where his brother was turned into a mad prophet by the ‘Green Chase’ thirty years before and has been held in a golden cage beside the cathedral ever since. Vitalius determines to free his brother, but he can only do this by initiating the magical ‘Festival of the Nines.’ This will rewrite the history of the city, though whether this occurs due to the festival per se, or due to Vitalius briefly leaving the city during the festival is not entirely clear. The fantastical nature of the city, its bleak, frozen and otherworldly surroundings, and the way it appears to switch between timelines, is intriguing. However, the nature of the city is quite hard to grasp, and this reader was left wondering exactly what happened and why….
“The Garbage Girls” by Nick Wolven tells of a small group of private school girls who are undertaking volunteer work at a New Jersey healthcare camp to boost their chances of acceptance into Ivy league schools. Set in a somewhat dystopian future, where hospital care is presumably over capacity, and camps have been set up to deal with the overflow, the set-up is quite convincing and chilling. One other girl (a ‘noomie’) has an implant that enables her to work in very distressing circumstances, and the protagonist ‘garbage girls’ take up against her. The story is more focussed on the character relationships, which are deftly handled, rather than a complex plot. Overall, it’s quite satisfying.,,
“The Dark at the Edge of the Stage” by James L. Sutter is a short horror fantasy, about a guitarist who had to leave a band due to his drinking. He goes into a music store to impress the store workers with his musical skills but gets more than he bargained for. It’s inventive and, for such a short tale, it’s quite immersive.
“The Monster I Found in the Third Grade” by Paul Tobin follows the trend in this issue by being another horror tale, set in a mid-west US junior school. The setting and themes are quite reminiscent of Stephen King. In this short story of evil, a young boy finds a monster in the snow drifts during his school lunch break. It’s quite an engaging tale and is well-told.
“Ceremonials” by Robert Levy is a short fantasy story that once again has one foot in the horror genre. A group of teenage girls on summer camp are harassed by the teenage boys also attending the camp, much to their disgust. But when they encounter a strange, almost fossilized, tree in a clearing they uncover a menace that will dramatically change the balance between the groups of teenagers. The tale is slightly gruesome, but it does bring a few new ideas to the well-worked “teen summer camp horror” trope….
Read Mike’s complete review here.
Here’s all the details on the latest SF print mags.
Analog Science Fiction & Science Fact
Editor Trevor Quachri gives us a tantalizing issue summary, as usual.
By the end of the events of “The Malady” by Shane Tourtellotte (November/December 2021), readers saw a huge mystery solved, but those answers also brought new questions to light: who was responsible and why? And perhaps most importantly: what next? Well, our lead novella for next issue, “Truta and Pilta,” can answer that last matter at least: a space race.
Then our first fact article of the issue considers some of the more esoteric properties of black holes, in “Black Holes and the Human Future” by Howard V. Hendrix. We also have a fact “short” about the problems with fictional bio-scanners — you know: as in “Scanning the planet for life-forms, captain!” — from Valentin D. Ivanov, in “Biosignatures: the Second Biggest Blunder of SF.”
And of course we have plenty of other fiction pieces, such as one featuring a unique combination of time-travel and astronomy, in Jerry Oltion’s “The Dark Ages”; an all-too-accurate tale of technological turnover, in AT Sayer’s “Across the River”; plus a summer’s worth of blockbuster action, ranging from the meeting of a shape-shifter and an assassin in “Punctuated Equilibrium,” by Auston Habershaw; a tiny flaw leading to a nail-biting rescue, in “Single Point Failure,” by Sean Monaghan; and a pulse-pounding struggle for revenge or redemption in “Across the Sand Sea,” by TL Huchu, and many more, from Michèle Laframboise, Aimee Ogden, Steve Toase, Joe McDermott, Kelsey Hutton, Bruce McAllister, and then some!
Here’s the full TOC.
“Truta and Pilta,” Shane Tourtellotte
“Punctuated Equilibrium,” Auston Habershaw
“The Dark Ages,” Jerry Oltion
“The Mercy of the Sandsea,” T.l. Huchu
“Across the River,” A.T. Sayre
“Single Point Failure,” Sean Monaghan
“In Translation (Lost/Found),” Kelsey Hutton
“The Taste of Sound,” Steve Toase
“Everyone Then Who Hears These Words,” Aimee Ogden
“A Risky Harvest,” Geoffrey Hart
“Song of Starlight,” Jennifer R. Povey
“Rare Earths Pineapple,” Michèle Laframboise
“Killing a Tiger,” Karl Gantner
“Bloom,” Kate Maruyama
“We’re All In Trouble,” Joe M. Mcdermott
“My Nascent Garden,” Melanie Harding-Shaw
“Where the Buffalo Cars Roam,” David Cleden
“We May Be Better Strangers,” Mjke Wood
“What Is Green Will Always Be,” Bruce McAllister
“Inside Out,” Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Black Holes and the Human Future, Howard V. Hendrix
Biosignatures — the Second Biggest Blunder of SF, Valentin D. Ivanov
Another “Deadline”?, Edward M. Wysocki, Jr
“Worse Than One,” Eric James Stone
Belter Cats, Mary Soon Lee
In Perpetuity, Bruce Boston
Editorial: Environmental Tanstaafl, Richard A. Lovett
The 2021 Analytical Laboratory Results
In Times To Come
The Alternate View, John G. Cramer
Biolog: A.t. Sayre, Richard A. Lovett
Guest Reference Library, Sean C. W. Korsgaard
Upcoming Events, Anthony Lewis
Asimov’s Science Fiction
I always enjoy editor Sheila Williams’ issue summaries on their website. Here’s her thoughts on the new issue.
Our July/August 2022 issue features Rick Wilber’s blockbuster alternate-history novella about “The Goose.” This story includes Nazi spies enmeshed in the movie industry, Hollywood personalities, high school sophomore and brilliant shortstop Billie the Kid, and even the Spruce Goose.
Revolution seems to be coming for Will McIntosh’s frozen Bridesicles in “Work Minus Eighty”; Jack McDevitt treats us to some “Cosmic Harmony”; Octavia Cade takes us to the beach to investigate “Pollen and Salt”; Jonathan Sherwood spins a complex tale of “Retrocausality”; in K.A. Teryna’s “Tin Pilot,” augmented veterans are hunted by their government; a desperate rescue mission on a distant planet rivets from beginning to end in Michèle Laframboise’s “Screaming Fire”; when a group of teenagers wake up early on “The Big Deep,” Annika Barranti Klein scrutinizes some suspicious behavior; Robert R. Chase explains why we should be cautious when exchanging fruit or much else on the “Goblin Market”; new author Megha Spinel’s non time-travel tale transports us to 92 a.d. to reveal “The Secret of Silphium”; Paul Melko transforms humanity in “Ugly”; and Michael Swanwick examines romance and the origins of time travel in “Reservoir Ice.”
Robert Silverberg’s Reflections column spends some time “Looking Backward”; we get a viewing of “Scream Dreams, the Sequel” in James Patrick Kelly’s latest On the Net; Peter Heck’s On Books reviews works by Charles Stross, Naomi Novik, Rebecca Roanhorse, Matthew Hughes, 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.
“The Goose” by Rick Wilber
“Work Minus Eighty” by Will McIntosh
“Screaming Fire” by Michèle Laframboise
“The Secret of Silphium” by Megha Spinel
“Goblin Market” by Robert R. Chase
“Reservoir Ice” by Michael Swanwick
“Pollen and Salt” by Octavia Cade
“The Tin Pilot” by K.A. Teryna (Translated by Alex Shvartsman)
“Cosmic Harmony” by Jack McDevitt
“Retrocausality” by Jonathan Sherwood
“Ugly” by Paul Melko
“The Big Deep” by Annika Barranti Klein
Mare Serenitatis by Josh Pearce
The Little Things by Alex Pickens
Family by Bruce McAllister
concerning things which turn out to have an unexpected application wholly different from their intended use by Laura Theis
Music Remembers by Ashok K. Banker
Going Up to Hanford by Ursula Whitcher
Editorial: The 2022 Dell Magazines Awards by Sheila Williams
Reflections: Looking Backward by Robert Silverberg
On the Net: Screen Dreams, the Sequel by James Patrick Kelly
On Books by Peter Heck
The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
F&SF’s editor is Sheree Renée Thomas; she usually posts her thoughts on the issue to Facebook, but nothing this month. Here’s the Table of Contents.
“Starblind, Booklost, and Hearing the Songs of True Birds” by Rudi Dornemann
“The Song of Lost Voices” by Brian Trent
“Mycelium” by Beth Goder
“The Collection” by Charlie Hughes
“The Garbage Girls” by Nick Wolven
“The Wild Son” by Rajeev Prasad
“The Dark at the Edge of the Stage” by James L. Sutter
“The Monster I Found in the Third Grade” by Paul Tobin
“Ceremonials” by Robert Levy
“We are Flying” by Alexandra Munck
“Trapping Fairies” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
“Ciccio and the Wood Sprite” by Nick DiChario
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