November/December 2022 issues of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, and
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Cover art by Maurizio Manzieri (x2), and Mondolithic Studio
More than a month after their October 18th on-sale date, the November/December issues of Asimov’s SF and Analog are still not on the newsstand at my local B&N here in Illinois, which is annoying. At least I was able to find the Sept/Oct issue of F&SF, so I suppose that’s something.
I’m left relying on their (excellent) websites to learn what’s packed into the end-of-year issues of each magazine. And there’s a great deal to anticipate — including a brand new Gil Hamilton tale from Larry Niven & Steven Barnes, a story of desperate survival on a ruined spaceship by Suzanne Palmer, a novella of an enigmatic Galactic Federation by Mark W. Teidermann, and a cyberpunk mystery in post-apocalyptic San Francisco by J.C. Hsyu, plus tales by Marc Laidlaw, Nick Wolven, Ray Nayler, Michael Cassutt, Tom Purdom, James Maxey, Nick Mamatas, John Shirley, Sam J. Miller, Bennett North, and many others.
Maurizio Manzieri gets the cover for both Asimov’s and Analog this month — and I’m very pleased to see it. If you haven’t checked out the glorious work he’s done for his upcoming Heliopolis, Capital of the Gods art book, jump over to his Twitter page and rectify that immediately.
Black Gate writer David Wesley Hill (author of “Far From Laredo” and “The Good Sheriff”) reviews the latest Asimov’s at Tangent Online, including delightful tales of ruined spaceships, a depopulated America, Unexplained Aerial Phenomena, First Contact, and buried alien spacecraft.
In “Falling Off the Edge of the World” by Suzanne Palmer, the first of five novelettes in the latest issue of Asimov’s, the spaceship Hellebore collides with “something high-energy and high velocity” while in jump space. All the crew and passengers are killed except for Gabe, a livestock manager, and Alis, a systems technician. Unfortunately, the two survivors are at opposite ends of the broken vessel, separated by vacuum, and cannot meet in person although they are able to communicate through the ship’s comms. Following Alis’s advice, Gabe makes his part of the Hellebore as habitable as possible, planting a garden and raising bees and ducks defrosted from the ship’s cryonursery. Over the next thirty years, despite their physical separation, he and Alice become close companions, supporting each other during their long lonely exile — until the Hellebore is finally discovered by a rescue party, and their relationship is transformed forever in this touching tale of friendship and First Contact.
“The Empty” by Ray Nayler, is somewhat less grim even though in this future most people are unemployed, their jobs taken by robots, and areas of the country are apparently depopulated. Sal is one of the lucky few with gainful employment, working at a “portable drive center” monitoring a fleet of automated trucks. Then a red dot appears on Sal’s screen, signaling that a vehicle has broken down out on U.S. 50 in “the Empty” beside the remains of a diner. While taking stock of the situation using a remote controlled “diagnostic bee”, Sal finds the word “HELP” scrawled in the dust coating the restaurant’s one remaining window. Despite knowing that she will be ruinously fined and probably fired for using the drone outside of defined parameters, Sal is drawn by the silent plea out into the desolation on a mission of mercy in this taut, deftly written story of corporate greed and moral courage, which really emphasizes why it would be wise to carefully choose the right senior community when you retire.
In the next novelette, “Flicker” by Michael Cassutt, young Tyler Wallen, an “air force scope dope” one year out of basic officer training, is assigned to the Cobra Denali, a huge ship built from an oil platform, which is participating in Operation Endless Summer in the Bering Sea. After the Denali repels an attack by eco-terrorists, taking one prisoner, Wallen is assigned to guard the captured activist, “Jo with no E Johnson”, with whom he begins a fraught relationship. Eventually, they half convince Wallen that the Denali’s real mission isn’t to detect low-flying cruise missiles, but to target UAPs — Unexplained Aerial Phenomena. Then Wallen’s “hyper-digital” scanner registers a bogey, and what had previously been speculation becomes all too real…. A searing indictment of the “shoot first, ask questions later” philosophy, “Flicker” is a solid military yarn with tight plotting and well-drawn characterization.
As with the first story in this issue, First Contact is the subject of the next offering, the novelette “When the Signal Is the Noise” by Rajan Khanna. Monique is “one of a very small group of people good at drawing meaning from seemingly unrelated data.” Where most would find noise, she finds the signal, which is why her ex, Arjun, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, invites her to join the team tasked with analyzing the alien spaceship— “the Molecule”—which has appeared in the skies just outside of L.A. Unfortunately, when communication with the ship is attempted, the advance team is infected with a “fine biochemical spray”, sickening them all in different ways, and it’s up to Monique to apply her special talent to figure out what’s going on before the president authorizes a nuclear strike…. While paying homage to such predecessors as Close Encounters, Independence Day, and Arrival, “When the Noise Is the Signal” nonetheless stands on its own as an interesting take on a first meeting with aliens, and as a warning why it will be essential that both parties understand exactly to whom they’re speaking.
I enjoyed Clifford D. Simak’s books when I was a kid, which is why I was immediately taken in by the folksy tone of the final novelette of the issue, “Lonely Hill” by James Maxey. Buck Heglund is an aging North Carolina farmer who has been living in an old RV out back of his house ever since his wife, Kate, died of a brain aneurysm. Recent rains from Hurricane Tilda have washed away part of a hill on his property, revealing what Buck suspects is a buried spaceship. With the help of his crackpot — or prescient — cousin, Johnny, they get the sentient vessel up and running, feeding it helium purchased from a party supply store in Raleigh. But the saucer isn’t only hungry, it’s lonely for its companion saucer, the “partner/mother/lover” who flew off in search of sustenance centuries ago, never to return…. Entertaining and sentimental, “Lonely Hill” is a “Golden Age” story reinvented for modern times.
Read David’s complete review here.
Sam Tomaino digs into the latest Analog at SFRevu.
The new short fiction begins with “Sacred Cow” by Larry Niven & Steven Barnes.
Not only do we get something from Larry Niven, but it’s a Gil Hamilton story, one early in his career. He investigates the murder of a cow that was being used to grow human organs for transplanting into a rich man. The solution is so clever, you won’t see it coming.
“Cryptonic” by Aurelian Gayet
Ian Beck is a claims adjustor for Metis, a company that makes proxy chips. People can copy their consciousness into them and the chip, using a holographic image, can do remote business. The original person then can get access to those memories. Ian had tried using one but didn’t like it. He is called into a hotel room with a guy who is dead from an extreme drug overdose. In the same room, is another man’s smashed proxy chip. Ian and a police detective investigate and find out about a new kind of drug that can be transmitted to a proxy chip and then to a human. It is there that things get really interesting.
“The Actor” by Kedrick Brown
Ray is an actor in a future film production where putting on makeup means having your memories overwritten so you think you actually are an African tribesman hunting wildebeest. His character dies from a snakebite so that job is over and his real memories returned. What’s next? A new kind of production.
A good little story with a great ending!
“Stress Response” by Leonard Richardson
Kelly is working a five-year indenture at a convenience store for a race called the ramei-Lu. For some reason, they have merged into one being. When help comes, we find out why.
“Dinosaur Veterinarian” by Guy Stewart
This is a sequel to “Road Veterinarian” in the September/October 2019 issue. In this story, 2071 Minnesota veterinarian Javier Quinn Xiong Zaman is taken to South Korea by his friend genetically-enhanced Staff Sergeant Thatcher to investigate a series of animal attacks on people on both sides of the DMZ. With the assistance of scientists from both Koreas, they discover a bioengineered virus to be dispersed by birds that would kill Koreans.
Lots of science to this story and some further development in the relationship between Zaman and Thatcher. Another good story and I will be looking forward to the next one.
“There Ain’t No Stealth in Space” by Eli Jones
Morrison Sims is Watch Chief at a remote part of the Confederation. It wasn’t the exciting job he always dreamed about. It was a backwater. But when pirates send a message threatening them and they disappear from their screens, things get interesting and his assistant shows her worth.
The fiction concludes with the novella, “The Jazz Age” by Mark W. Teidermann.
Fifty years before the start of this story, a race called the Trishti came to the humans on Mars, telling them of a galactic civilization they could be a part of if they developed a stardrive. The Trishti wanted humans to discover it on their own, but gave humanity many other advances. Lerin Olva has recently been promoted to a high position in dealing with the Trishti although his wife, Josa, doesn’t like them because humanity has become dependent on and dominated by them, even changing their names to be like them.
At a jubilee celebration of the arrival of the Trishti, the official in charge announces they have a working starship. Later, the Trishti announce they are leaving because humanity does not need them anymore. But the official was lying, they have no idea how a stardrive would work.
But Lerin finds out the Trishti have been lying, too. He enters a world of intrigue and secrets in a thrilling story that was a joy to read.
Read Sam’s complete review here.
C.D. Lewis at Tangent Online examines the latest F&SF.
The proportion of stories that can be recommended in this issue is high, easily exceeding the one-third threshold the reviewer ordinarily sets as a benchmark. There’s something here for fans of comedy, horror, drama, fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales — and still the reviewer is surely missing somebody. Worth reading.
Sara Ellis‘ “Crypt Currency” is a first person urban fantasy narrated by a self-employed purveyor of magic ingredients supplied largely by grave-robbery. Strong humorous elements repeatedly appear, but the dark characters, jobs, and problems in the “Crypt Currency” world balance them for an excellent roller coaster. The villains are properly villainous, and the good guys’ cause deeply just; the stakes escalate quickly on a rush job and things fall apart wonderfully. Ellis sets expectations so that the story’s various reversals feel consistent with the world. “Crypt Currency” delivers a grand slam home run conclusion the reviewer can’t resist saying you can take to the bank. Bonus points for a character paid crypto to rob a crypt.
J.C. Hsyu‘s first-person short story “Optimist Cleaver’s Last Transmission” is a one-last-job revenge plot dystopic science fiction mystery. Fans of Cyberpunk will appreciate the grimy world of fee-for-service couriers trading on their reputations to risk their lives for pay to deliver messages on behalf of (and to) anonymous strangers in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco. Hsyu’s effective use of longstanding traditional story elements is particularly outstanding… Everything – the revenge plot itself, the One Last Job scenario, a couple of “What kind of name is that?” challenges — has been artfully formed from rough clay into a masterwork. It’s a solid story and a fun read. Nobody with a yen for Cyberpunk should miss “Optimist Cleaver’s Last Transmission.”
Aigner Lee Wilson opens the third-person multiple-point-of-view novelette “To Carve Home in Your Bones” on an injured wreck victim being found by her teammates. The tale mixes ideas from shipwreck disasters, the pandemic, and perhaps zombie fiction to narrate injury and flirting and suicide and mercy killing and, of course, anticipation of the next round of disaster. It’s a dark story set in a dark world, but it doesn’t immediately telegraph a specific genre; identifying the genre seems to turn on what a “faerild” is and whether it’s a natural parasite or a fantasy beast. The reviewer leans toward Fantasy but it doesn’t matter: the story’s genre is horror. If you like horror, this one’s for you.
In “Though the Heavens Fall” Louis Evans presents science fiction set in deep space among intelligent starships whose sensors and propulsion depend on physical principles not yet known to science. Evans presents a universe whose varied inhabitants, who may lack a common culture and may share no common language, may interact using a Protocol that enables willing participants to use their propulsion systems to make a high-stakes interaction from even such pedestrian occasions as a dinner party or a trade opportunity. Since the Protocol gives rise to the story’s stakes, and is revealed immediately, the reader might as well understand that while the Protocol facilitates interactions, it does so at life-or-death stakes: no ship entangled in the Protocol can leave without the same kind of mutual assent that created it…
Bennett North‘s “The Shotgun Lucifer” is a science-fiction short story set in a place where humans have evolved echolocation as their primary sense for detecting objects at range… Told in third person, it follows a man acting as a caravan guard while he attempts to escape a community where he is wanted. Naturally, the escape goes badly and the result reveals the abilities and values of both the main character and the woman he decided to rescue… The climactic confrontation includes a Riders of Rohan moment that presents a delightful surprise precisely because the protagonist doesn’t sense things the reader would. This story offers hard SF for those who love it, and is a fun read to boot.
Jo Miles‘ “Santa Knows” is an urban fantasy comic revenge plot set off by a tech surveillance profiteer destroying childhood with an app-driven, spycam-fueled, activity-monitor-verified analysis of everything every child can be caught doing wrong. The delightful premise is the hook: someone in this world actually reads Santa’s letters and determines that sucking the fun out of kids’ lives is naughty. There are some lines so delicious the reviewer is tempted to quote them, but the reader should be allowed to discover them personally (with or without a fist-pump)… “Santa Knows” delivers consequences at a grade-school level that’s both well suited to the story’s agent of justice and entertainingly humiliating for a tech tycoon. Good fun.
Here’s all the details on the latest SF print mags.
Asimov’s Science Fiction
Here’s Sheila’s summary of the latest issue of Asimov’s, from the website.
Asimov’s November/December 2022 brings us the stunning conclusion to The Court Martial of the Renegat Renegades by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Mysteries are revealed and enigmas are untangled in far-future halls of justice. In addition, Suzanne Palmer’s intense new novelette will have us “Falling off the Edge of the World.” Don’t miss either of these exciting tales!!
Michèle Laframboise lends a wistful holiday air to the issue with “I’ll Be Moon for Christmas”; Nick Wolven’s surreal story lets us know that “It’s Time to Wake UP!”; a race against time and bureaucracy unfolds in Ray Nayler’s “The Empty”; Michael Cassutt reveals a “Flicker” of truth; new to Asimov’s author Rajan Khanna conveys just how difficult communication can be “When the Signal Is the Noise”; James Maxey breaks our hearts on “Lonely Hill”; we get to spend an unforgettable “Forty-Eight Minutes at the Trainview Café” with M. Bennardo; transported to Cyprus by Nick Mamatas, we are “Drowned in the Sun”; and Tom Purdom conveys the consequences of “The Long Revenge of Chenda Sebalko.”
Robert Silverberg’s Reflections ponders “Temps Perdu”; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net experiments with a “Science Project”; and Kelly Jennings’s On Books considers the works of Nnedi Okorafor, E. Lily Yu, Benjamin Rosenbaum, and many others. Plus we’ll have an array of poetry you’re sure to enjoy.
Here’s the complete Table of Contents.
The Court Martial of the Renegat Renegades, Part II by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Falling Off the Edge of the World” by Suzanne Palmer
“It’s Time to Wake Up!” by Nick Wolven
“Flicker” by Michael Cassutt
“When the Signal is the Noise” by Rajan Khanna
“Lonely Hill” by James Maxey
“I’ll Be Moon for Christmas” by Michèle Laframboise
“The Empty By” by Ray Nayler
“The Long Revenge of Chenda Sebalko” by Tom Purdom
“Forty-Eight Minutes at the Trainview Café” by M. Bennardo
“Drowned in the Sun” by Nick Mamatas
Your Clone Aims to Disremember, by Robert Frazier
Planting Another Brazil, by Jane Yolen
Lines to a Martian, by Alfonsina Storni (Translated by Brittany Hause)
Children of the Apocalypse, by John Philip Johnson
The Alien Ambassador, by Mary Soon Lee
Curse of the Clock, by Joe Haldeman
The Three Laws of Poetics, by Stewart C. Baker
Editorial: Thirty-Sixth Annual Readers’ Awards’ Results, by Sheila Williams
Reflections: Temps Perdu, by Robert Silverberg
On the Net: Science Project, by James Patrick Kelly
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.
We’re already wrapping up 2022, but we still have a few treats in store before we see the year off! Next issue, our cover story features the return of an iconic science-fiction character: when a genetically-modified animal is killed and the details don’t add up, ARM sends one of its top investigators — Gil Hamilton! Get the whole story in “Sacred Cow,” by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes.
Our fact article for the issue, from Christopher MacLeod, wonders if rather than the popular Alcubierre drive, a quantum mechanical star-drive might instead be “Another Way To the Stars.”
Then, of course, we also have a wide selection of other stories:
Even a peace between humans and aliens can be fraught with hidden danger, as we see in “Jazz Age,” by Mark W. Tiedemann; the Nietzsche quote about staring into the abyss turns out to be far more literally true than anyone expected in Lisa Herbert’s “Seen”; a high-tech repo man stumbles into a far-reaching conspiracy in “Cryptonic,” by Aurelien Gayet; a robot struggles to find its better self in “In All Good Conscience,” by Meghan Hyland, and more, from Guy Stewart, Mark Laidlaw, Tom Jolly, Holly Schofield, Leonard Richardson, Deborah L. Davitt, and others, plus all our usual columns and features!
Here’s the full TOC.
“The Jazz Age,” Mark W. Tiedemann
“Cryptonic,” Aurelien Gayet
“Seen,” L.C. Herbert
“Dinosaur Veterinarian,” Guy Stewart
“Sacred Cow,” Larry Niven & Steven Barnes
“In All Good Conscience,” Meghan Hyland
“The Actor,” Kedrick Brown
“Maximum Efficiency,” Holly Schofield
“The Engineer’s Gamble,” Robert E. Harpold
“Stress Response,” Leonard Richardson
“Starlite,” C.l. Schacht
“Beneath the Surface, a Womb of Ice,” Deborah L. Davitt
“The Twenty-Body Problem,” Tom Jolly
“Lonely Planet,” Steve Ingeman
“There Ain’t No Stealth in Space,” Eli Jones
“Legacy,” Derrick Boden
“Auto-Assist,” Mark Laidlaw
“Control of Humans,” M.T. Reiten
“Doves Fly in the Morning,” Sam W. Pisciotta
Another Way to the Stars, Christopher Macleod
Retroreflectors, M.C. Childs
Moscovium, Drew Pisarra
Guest Editorial: Breaking The Cycle of Fake News, Richard A. Lovett
Biolog: Holly Schofield, Richard A. Lovett
The Alternate View, John G. Cramer
Guest Reference Library, Bryan Thomas Schmidt
In Times to Come
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.
We’re on my eleventh issue, November/December 2022, and I’m excited about these new stories, poems, columns, and art! Some are beloved icons and others are exciting lights, making their F&SF debut. We have another cool cover by Mondolithic Studio that illustrates Cyberpunk pioneer John Shirley’s cover story, “Sacrificial Drones” and the new humor contest winners are announced in this issue. This issue’s theme explores the darkness and the light of the new season and, yes, there is a holiday tale that I hope will make you smile.
Thank you all so much for your continued support, and many thanks to the wonderful F&SF team! They all live very full lives and yet each comes to share their love and appreciation of the magazine by giving it their time and great care. No small gift, thank you!
May the new season bring you all a lot of rest and joy!
Sheree Renée Thomas
Editor, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
Here’s the Table of Contents.
“Sacrificial Drones” by John Shirley
“Optimist Cleaver’s Last Transmission” by J.C. Hsyu
“Crypt Currency” by Sara Ellis
“To Carve Home in Your Bones” by Aigner Lee Wilson
“Though the Heavens Fall” by Louis Evans
“The Shotgun Lucifer” by Bennett North
“Child of Two Worlds” by Vida Cruz-Borja
“Iconophobe” by Sam J. Miller
“Skin of the Beast” by Alexander Flores
“Santa Knows” by Jo Miles
“Water Music” by Michael A. Gonzales
Cauldron by Crystal Sidell
Queen of Cups by Crystal Sidell
Familiar by Shelly Jones
Final Gathering by Jay Sturner
From Below by Jay Sturner
Editorial: Bah! Humbug! The Holiday Blues by Sheree Renée Thomas
Books to Look For by Charles de Lint
Musing on Books by Michelle West
Books by James Sallis
By the Numbers 6 by Arley Sorg
Science: Color It Blue by Jerry Oltion
Index to Volumes 142 & 143
Curiosities by Chet Weise
Cartoons: Arthur Masear
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, $8.99 per issue, one year sub $47.94 in the US) — edited by Sheila Williams
Analog Science Fiction and Fact (208 pages, $8.99 per issue, one year sub $47.94 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 November/December issues of Asimov’s and Analog are on sale until December 13; F&SF until January 2. See our coverage of the September/October print SF here, and all our recent magazine coverage here.