Strange Diseases, Vengeful Ghosts, and Lovecraftian Horror: September/October 2022 Print SF Magazines

Strange Diseases, Vengeful Ghosts, and Lovecraftian Horror: September/October 2022 Print SF Magazines

September/October 2022 issues of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, and
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Cover art by 123RF, 123RF, and Bob Eggleton

I was at the launch party for Randee Dawn’s debut novel Tune in Tomorrow at Worldcon this month (with the most amazing TV-shaped cake — seriously, check it out), when I spotted the also-amazing Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. I was hoping for the chance to catch up, but long before that happy event the party became so crowded that Jacob Weisman and I, who’ve both managed to dodge COVID for the past two years, nervously ducked out and ended up talking in relative quiet on the Hyatt skyway.

Some time before midnight Sheila found us as she made her weary way to her hotel room. We pulled over some chairs, and soon there was a small crowd of us gossiping about short fiction on the skyway over North Stetson Avenue (ironically enough, overlooking the exact location of the opening scene of my novel The Robots of Gotham).

One of the things Sheila shared was that, despite all my expectations to the contrary, the print SF magazines — including Asimov’s and Analog — are doing very well, thank you. The pandemic played havoc with distribution, and for the last few years all the attention (and award nominations) has gone to online magazines like Uncanny and Clarkesworld, but Asimov’s subscriber base has proven remarkably steadfast, and is even growing. I’ve been used to a steady stream of bad news, and general gloom and doom around the print mags for years, and it was wonderful to hear they have plenty of life in them yet.

There’s an abundance of evidence in current issues, with stories from Greg Egan, Alastair Reynolds, Eileen Gunn, Eleanor Arnason, Susan Palwick, Geoffrey A. Landis, Marissa Lingen, Rich Larson, Gregory Feeley, Molly Tanzer, Meg Ellison, Constance Fay, and many more.

Sheila also has also a thoughtful reminiscence of my friend Bill Johnson, whom I worked with at Motorola for years, in Asimov’s.

Victoria Silverwolf reviews the latest Asimov’s at Tangent Online, including delightful tales of strange diseases, vengeful ghosts, Lovecraftian horror, and odd apocalypses.

Many of the stories in this issue feature characters who have to deal with sudden changes in their lives. The magazine offers tales of both science fiction and fantasy with a wide range of moods and settings, so there is sure to be something to appeal to almost any reader of imaginative fiction.

In “Solidity” by Greg Egan, a high school student finds himself in an altered world. His classroom, teachers, and fellow students are unfamiliar. His family is not at his house, which has also changed. With the help of a man who is similar to, but not identical with, his vanished father, he struggles to accept this strange new existence, which seems to have affected everyone on Earth.

The premise reminds me a bit of Michael Bishop’s Nebula-winning story “The Quickening,” although it is different enough that the new story is more than just a variation on the older one. The author develops the fantastic concept in a logical, realistic way. The characters use reason and cooperation in order to prevent society from completely breaking down, which is a refreshing change from many tales of seemingly impossible challenges…

The protagonist of “Things to Do in Deimos When You’re Dead” by Alastair Reynolds is killed while in suspended animation, but his consciousness is accidentally stored in a computer. In an imaginary world created by a woman who suffered the same fate, he learns from other victims that his mind will eventually fade away, leading to a second death. They offer him the chance to perform small acts of kindness for the outside world while waiting for oblivion. The author uses the familiar premise of downloading consciousness into a computer simulation in a new way…

“BAKEHAFU OK” by Jendayi Brooks-Flemister takes place in a world where people randomly turn into monsters, with varying abilities to control their transformations. In a Japanese brothel, a prostitute helps a client changed into a particularly grotesque creature learn how to retain his human form. Although the story carries a warning about its sexual content, it is not very explicit and should not offend any but the most sensitive readers….

In “One Night Stand” by Eileen Gunn, a woman picks up a man at a bar. He proves to be a violent criminal, killing her and kidnapping her teenage daughter. As a ghost, she uses her limited powers in a desperate attempt to save her daughter from the murderer. This is a gritty crime story, with an appropriate content warning about scenes of violence. The ghost, who narrates, is an intriguing character, tough but also foolish in her choice of men and with a strong love for her daughter. The supernatural content, although vital to the plot, is minimal. This dark tale of human evil will best be appreciated by readers of intense suspense stories…

“Island History” by Lia Swope Mitchell takes the form of the journal of a physician investigating a strange disease among the colonists of a remote island. The victims appear insane, claiming to be under attack and harming themselves and others in their delusionary states. The key to the deadly illness involves a strange fungus and the former inhabitants of the island.

The author writes convincingly in the style of a man of years gone by. (The time seems to be the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, although this is not stated explicitly.) The work has the mood of a horror story, vaguely Lovecraftian in tone. It can be read as an allegory for the lingering effects of colonialism, but this is not overt. This rather old-fashioned tale should appeal to fans of traditional weird fiction.

Read Victoria’s complete review here.

Mike Bickerdike has some thoughtful coverage of the latest Analog at Tangent.

“Return Blessing” by Raymund Eich is quite an enjoyable short story. A lazy young man stationed on an alien world, living off his father’s stipend, spends one day a week sending back film of the native aliens to his father. His easy life is interrupted, however, when one alien stops him and requests that he “return blessing’’—a request he must fulfil but doesn’t understand. It’s quite a nice idea and is brightly written. The aliens are well presented, and in tone it’s rather reminiscent of a ‘golden age’ SF tale.

If some of the stories in this issue of Analog seem a little mundane or lacking in imagination, the same cannot be said for the novelette “Self-Regulation” by Ian Creasey. In a far future of infinite multiverses, the technology to hop between universes has been invented, leading to instances where certain people exist (and work together) with alternates of themselves from across the multiverse. With an infinite number of universes to play in, travelling salesmen hop around the multiverse selling planet-destroying warheads for mass entertainment. This is written in a tongue-in-cheek, irreverent style and makes for quite an interesting read. It’s certainly science fiction, but it’s so extreme in its ‘speculation’, it bears more relation to the boundary-pushing New Wave of Moorcock than to Analog’s typical hard SF.

“No One the Wiser” by Tom Greene is an entertaining novelette, set after the ‘Breakdown’ of civilisation on a future Earth that now swelters under very high temperatures. In the hills near a small outlying town a band of back-to-basics humans who have ‘gengineered’ themselves to live on foliage (folivores), may have infringed corporate intellectual property rights. A representative of the genetics company visits the town with a view to interview the folivores. But is the man what he seems? The tale is well told, provides good imagery and SF ideas and is one of the more entertaining stories in this issue…

“A Stone’s Throw” by Gregory Feeley is a short but quietly impressive story. Two tiny moons orbiting Neptune travel in oppositely circling orbits: one retrograde, one prograde. Only coming into close proximity on fleeting occasions, two lovers are separated between the moons. One hatches a plot to travel between the moons to reunite. It’s very short, and this is the main criticism; there’s enough mood, imagery and style here to suggest it could be expanded into an improved longer tale.

“Each Separate Star” by Jonathan Sherwood is a well written, successful short story. A young worker at a space debris tracking station in the present day seems to have detected an unusual small object approaching Earth. She and her boss investigate the strange phenomenon. Full of little details that ring true and which also bespeak the author’s knowledge of current space tracking sites and technology, this is a short but gripping little tale. Recommended.

The novella “Kingsbury 1944” by Michael Cassutt concludes this issue of Analog. This superior tale gives a fictional account of life at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant in 1944, at a time when the lab head was one Edward E. ‘doc’ Smith (of Lensman fame) and the administration manager was Charles O. Finley, who in real life later became a famous businessman and the owner of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Into this fascinating true scenario the fictional character of Kramer is dropped. An ex minor league baseball player and now a young chemist who failed the war draft, Kramer is brought in to Kingsbury by Finley, to join E.E. ‘doc’ Smith’s ordnance chemistry team (optimizing mine charges and so on) and also to act as a ‘ringer’ in the company baseball team. Kramer learns there is more to the work being undertaken by Smith’s team than management realises however, and his discovery provides tension and conflict. The portrait Cassutt paints of Smith is appealing and fascinating, showing a good man in difficult circumstances who is self effacing about his sideline: writing ‘scientifiction’. Finley is a much less sympathetic character, but Cassutt rounds out all the players so no one seems wholly good or bad. It will be particularly interesting for many to read a fictionalised account of Smith’s time at Kingsbury, given that the 1941 section of his Lensmen novel Triplanetary was so closely based on his own experiences during the war at the ordnance plant. Overall, this was an engrossing and well-written tale that will especially appeal to anyone who’s enjoyed Smith’s classic SF books.

Read Mike’s complete review here.

Sam Tomaino at SFRevu digs into the latest F&SF.

“The Witch of Endor” by Karim Kattan. This story, we are told, “is part of a series of stories that explore themes of estrangement, desire, exile, and political violence in the setting of the Summerlands, a country partially modeled on Palestinian geographies.”
In the Summerlands, many years ago, invaders came to the shores and wiped out many of the natives, now called the elder people. They have a legend of a witch of Indur that would seek vengeance on their enemies. The invaders have an annual ball in which they want to trick the witch to poison herself. But the witch has never shown up. But this night, someone has.
Great story!

“The Cottage in Omena” by Charles Andrew Oberndorf

In this novella, there is a pandemic of Water Attraction Syndrome. Spread by lichen, it causes the sufferer to, at first, drink a lot of water, then drown themselves in a body of water. But they do not die, they live in a zombified state with the compulsion to kiss someone on the lips, spreading the disease.

Five years ago, at the family cabin on Grand Traverse Bay, a tragedy occurred. Claire’s parents signed over the cabin to her and her sister. They had not been there since the tragedy. Claire must be there to meet with a real estate agent for a potential buyer. Going back brings back painful memories and more.

Some of the details might be a bit contrived, but this was a very unsettling tale.

“Le Sorcier de Lascaux” by Douglas Schwarz
Danielle, an American, travels to France in the 70s and gets a job recreating the Lascaux cave paintings so the originals can be preserved. She has a family heirloom from her late mother, a very old sea shell, worn on a necklace. After she paints an ibex, she sees one in the woods. She sees other animals she has painted. Then, she paints something else with a startling result.

Great story!

“Tangle Her in Quicksilver” by Gerri Leen

A familiar tale re-told from the viewpoint of the magic mirror. Who’s the foulest of them all? Just perfect!

The fiction concludes with the novelette, “Les Chimères: An Ode” by Molly Tanzer.

Ketrichlor is an adventurer and explorer in space, looking for something called welkinval which is valuable. Her partner is a celestopod called Two-Taps. She finds a small vessel in the middle of nowhere and enters it. Inside she finds a paradise of sumptuous food and beautiful people with whom she can dally.

Eventually, she tires of this and asks about any previous visitors. She is directed to a tower where she finds a long-dead body of an Earthman. She realizes the people with whom she had been cavorting were just constructs so she sends a call to a Tharn, an old girlfriend to help her investigate. They find out the answer to one mystery with something else for, at least, Tharn to do.

Delightful story. Would like to see these characters again.

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

Asimov’s Science Fiction

Here’s Sheila’s summary of the annual “Slightly Spooky” issue of Asimov’s, from the website.

We’ll feature Part I of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s excellent new short novel, The Court Martial of the Renegat Renegades in Asimov’s September/October 2022 issue. This spellbinding SF/mystery considers the enigma within the puzzle that shrouds all that occurred aboard the RenegatGreg Egan brings us a long novelette about “Solidity” that is both heart breaking and empowering.

Our annual “Slightly Spooky” issue is packed with eerie tales. Alastair Reynolds proves there are “Things to Do in Deimos When You’re Dead”; Eileen Gunn haunts us with a horrifying “One Night Stand”; Jendayi Brooks-Flemister chills and consoles with “Bakehafu OK”; Eleanor Arnason introduces us to “Grandmother Troll”; Geoffrey A. Landis untangles “The Rules of Unbinding”; Rich Larson chronicles “The Rise of Alpha Gal”;  Marissa Lingen provides some “Bonus Footage”; Lia Swope Mitchell explores an “Island Mystery”; Susan Palwick sets the tragedy of “Sparrows” on a different island; but “The Extra­terrestrials Are Coming! The Extraterrestrials Are Coming!” by Peter Wood breaks the tension.

Robert Silverberg’s Reflections asks if we should “Bring Back the Wooly Mammoth?”; we meet “Unknowable Somethings” in James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net; Norman Spinrad’s On Books explores “The Future of Humanity, The Humanity of the Future”; Kelly Lagor’s Thought Experiment discusses “The Science Fiction and Horror of Frankenstein.” Plus we’ll have an array of poetry you’re sure to enjoy.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

NOVEL

The Court Martial of the Renegat Renegades, Part I by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

NOVELETTES

“Solidity” by Greg Egan
“Things to Do in Deimos When You’re Dead” by Alastair Reynolds
“One Night Stand” by Eileen Gunn
“Grandmother Troll” by Eleanor Arnason

SHORT STORIES

“Sparrows” by Susan Palwick
“Bakehafu OK” by Jendayi Brooks-Flemister
“The Rules of Unbinding” by Geoffrey A. Landis
“Bonus Footage” by Marissa Lingen
“Island History” by Lia Swope Mitchell
“The Extraterrestrials Are Coming! The Extraterrestrials Are Coming!” by Peter Wood
“The Rise of Alpha Gal” by Rich Larson

POETRY

The Curious Machine, by Jane Yolen
Taxi Ride, by Ian Goh
A Tale of Clumsy Stitches, by J.e.a. Wallace
Abyss Inside Our Young Hearts, by Yuliia Vereta
Perseverance, by Andrew Darlington
A Necromancer Collects, by Lesley Hart Gunn

DEPARTMENTS

Editorial: Resilience, by Sheila Williams
In Memoriam: Bill Johnson, by Sheila Williams
Reflections: Bring Back the Woolly Mammoth?, by Robert Silverberg
On The Net: Unknowable Somethings, by James Patrick Kelly
Thought Experiment: The Science Fiction and Horror of Frankenstein, by Kelly Lagor
On Books, by Norman Spinrad
Next Issue
The SF Conventional Calendar, by Erwin S. Strauss

Analog Science Fiction & Science Fact

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

Our September/October issue arrives as summer begins to wind down and fall begins to creep in through the cracks, and we have stories to suit both moods.

Our lead piece is a bit of historical (science-) fiction that wouldn’t fit as well anywhere but Analog: in the early days of America’s entry into WWII, a former minor-league baseball player finds himself contributing to the war effort at an ordnance plant, but he also finds more secrets than he bargained for. What’s going on, and how do some familiar faces figure in? The answers lie in “Kingsbury 1944,” by Michael Cassutt.

We’re always happy when our fact article ties into a story, as it does next issue, thanks to Marianne Dyson’s novelette, “The Power of Apollo (16),” and the associated Science Behind the Story piece, both of which involve some fascinating information that only Marianne (one of NASA’s first female flight controllers) could bring us.

We’ll also have a timely bit of fiction about a potentially worrisome asteroid, from Jerry Oltion in “Shepherd Moons”; a chaotic romp through a multiversal arms bazaar, from Ian Creasey, in “Self-Regulation”; and many others, both a little scary and a lot silly, including stories from Tom Greene, James Sallis, Marie Vibbert, Rich Larson, Marissa Lingen, and much, much more!

Here’s the full TOC.

Novella

“Kingsbury 1944,” Michael Cassutt

Novelettes

“Shepherd Moons,” Jerry Oltion
“The Power of Apollo (16),” Marianne J. Dyson
“Self-Regulation,” Ian Creasey
“No One the Wiser,” Tom Greene

Short Stories

“Return Blessing,” Raymund Eich
“Companion,” Ron Collins
“The Butcher of Farside Hover Shoot Your Shot,” Rich Larson
“Inheritance,” Hannah Yang
“Jebeni Problem,” P.K. Torrens
“Out of the Red Lands,” Marissa Lingen
“Doom Patch,” James Sallis
“Bumblebot,” Marie Vibbert
“The Rebel Feed,” Ted Rabinowitz
“Web Accessibility For Aliens,” Sean Vivier
“What Was Your Inspiration?,” Sloane Leong
“Taking the Waters,” Tim McDaniel
“A Stone’s Throw,” Gregory Feeley
“Each Separate Star,” Jonathan Sherwood

Flash Fiction

One Night at the Wandering Comet, Liz A. Vogel
Stepping Out, Timons Esaias

Science Fact

The Science Behind “The Power Of Apollo (16),” Marianne J. Dyson

Special Feature

A Very Useful Exoplanet, Edward M. Wysocki, Jr.

Probability Zero

“Labor Dispute,” Filip Wiltgren

Poetry

Albert Einstein, Two Stills, Robert Frazier
Emergent, Lynne Sargent

Reader’s Departments

Guest Editorial: A Fuller Future, Alec Nevala-lee
The Alternate View, John G. Cramer
In Memoriam: Bill Johnson, Emily Hockaday
In Times To Come
Guest Reference Library, Catherine Shaffer
Brass Tacks
Upcoming Events, Anthony Lewis

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

F&SF’s editor is Sheree Renée Thomas; she usually posts her thoughts on the issue to Facebook. Here she is on the latest issue.

The September/October 2022 issue, my tenth, as editor of F&SF, already has made its way to many of you around the world, thanks for letting us know. Look for some faves and some wonderful debuts by Charles Andrew Oberndorf, Douglas Schwarz, C.B. Blanchard, Karim Kattim, Lucas X. Wiseman, Remi Martin, Samantha Murray, Linda Niehoff, Constance Fay, Gerri Leen, Amanda Hollander, Dixon Chance, and Mary Soon Lee. Enjoy new columns from Charles de Lint, Elizabeth Hand (who will soon be handling the creation of a brand new Shirley Jackson novel, supported by the author’s estate!), Karin Lowachee, David J. Skal, and explore “The Moon Illusion” in Jerry Oltion’s latest science column.

Our vibrant, cosmic cover by Hugo Award-winning artist Bob Eggleton inspired several commissioned cover stories, including “One Day I Will” by Phoenix Alexander, “In the Dream” by Meg Elison, and “Les Chimères: An Ode” by Molly Tanzer. Please share your favorite stories on FB & on Twitter.

Thanks for your continued support of F&SF that helped make the magazine a 2022 Hugo Award Finalist in the Short Form category. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction will attend the 80th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago this weekend, so say hello if you’re out and about. Thanks also for sending in your subscriptions and your renewals! Hope you enjoy this new issue, and that you’ll be on the look out for the final issue of the year, available in November.

All best,

Sheree Renée Thomas

Here’s the Table of Contents.

Novella

“The Cottage in Omena” by Charles Andrew Oberndorf

Novelets

“One Day I Will” by Phoenix Alexander
“Le Sorcier de Lascaux” by Douglas Schwarz
“Les Chimères: An Ode” by Molly Tanzer

Short Stories

“In the Dream” by Meg Ellison
“Wolf Shape” by C.B. Blanchard
“The Witch of Endor” by Karim Kattan
“A Songstress in the Rain” by Lucas X. Wiseman
“Déjà Vu: Eau de Parfum for Men” by Remi Martin
“The Summer Dives” by Samantha Murray
“You and the Wolf Boy” by Linda Niehoff
“The Charcoal Man” by Constance Fay
“Tangle Her in Quicksilver” by Gerri Leen

Poems

The Drowned One by Amanda Hollander
The Time Traveler’s Defense by Dixon Chance
The Halloween Zombie by Dixon Chance
When They Come For You by Mary Soon Lee

Departments

Editorial: Don’t the Moon Look Wholesome by Sheree Renée Thomas
Books to Look For by Charles de Lint
Books by Elizabeth Hand
Films: Metaphors, Literally by David J. Skal
Films: The Batman by Karin Lowachee
Science: The Moon Illusion by Jerry Oltion
Coming Attractions
Curiosities by Michael A. Gonzales
Cartoons: Nick Downes, Mark Heath, Arthur Masear

Cover by Bob Eggleton for “One Day I Will”

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 September/October issues of Asimov’s and Analog are on sale until October 18; F&SF until October 31. See our coverage of the July/August print SF here, and all our recent magazine coverage here.

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