May/June 2023 issues of Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction,
and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Cover art by Eldar Zakirov
(for “Aleyara’s Descent”), 123RF, and Maurizio Manzieri (for “The Dire Delusion”)
There’s a lot of great reading in store for us in this month’s print magazines. Including a classic mummy horror tale, stories of fox-gods and conjure houses, and a new tale of Cascor the Discriminator by Matthew Hughes (in F&SF); a sexy apocalypse robot, a Star Trek-like tale of the coldest spot in the universe, and a hero in an ancient Greek Labyrinth (in Asimov’s SF); and a Raymond Chandler-esque noir in space, an action-packed novella of terrifying aliens on an alien world, a berserk mech on Mars, and a wry narrator with hangover in a dystopian London (Analog).
The big SF magazines are packed with brand new fiction from Sean McMullen, Allen M. Steele, Lavie Tidhar, Matthew Hughes, Zig Zag Claybourne, Frank Wu & Jay Werkheiser, Mark W. Teidermann, Andy Dudak, R. Garcia y Robertson, Tom Purdom, Sandra McDonald, Bill Johnson & Gregory Frost, Chris Willrich, Barbara Krasnoff, Melissa A. Watkins, and many more. See all the details below.
Sam Tomaino reviews the latest F&SF at SFRevu, including a classic mummy horror tale by Fawaz Al-Matrouk, a fresh take on Rapunzel, stories of fox-gods, Buffalo Soldiers, and the shifting sands of Titan, plus a new tale of Cascor the Discriminator by Matthew Hughes
“The Dire Delusions” by Matthew Hughes
The latest story of Cascor the Discriminator and his crew, the sorceress Margolyam, the scholar Ifgenio, and the young woman of magical talent Iovenna. Cascor is hired by a thief, who having stolen an item of religious significance, suddenly found himself asleep and relieved of the item. Cascor finds the same thing has happened to other thieves. His investigation leads to a group called the Trancers who had been banned from the city, Cascor himself being ensorcelled, and the uncovering of a plot against the Midsummer Hallows festival…
One of the best stories that Hughes has done and that’s saying something!
“In Time, All Foxes Grieve Westward” by Lark Morgan Lu
Josephine agrees to pose as Todd’s fianceé but this is a bit different than a romcom plot. Todd and his mother are fox-gods who can appear human. Todd’s mother is a hoarder and they must clear out a lot of junk she has accumulated. His mother resents this and things do not go well. Imaginative tale.
“A Conjure House in San Ouvido” by Ferdison Cayetano
In 1899, Preacher Sneed travels from Sapelo Island, Georgia, to the Philippines as part of the Buffalo Soldiers. He knows all about the haints at home. What he finds in the Philippines both human and haint [are] different.
An interesting mix of history, social justice, and the supernatural.
“For the Benefit of Mr. Khite” by Zig Zag Claybourne
Mr. Khite is a clone that is an intermediary between humans, the beings known as Intelligences, and the ship, New Tangier on which they travel. It serves as a doctor to billions. Why are Intelligences leaving the ship? Mr. Khite needs to know…
At Tangent Online, new reviewer Mina reports on the latest Asimov’s, including new stories from Black Gate contributors Chris Willrich and Bill Johnson, and a Bermuda Triangle novella by Allen M. Steele.
“Sexy Apocalypse Robot” by Sandra McDonald is a bitter-sweet story set in a post-apocalyptic world. On the surface, it’s about Joseph, one of the few remaining humans, striking up a friendship with his “mechanical” neighbour, Antonio. But underneath that is an exploration of identity and the need for connection. It asks the questions, in a world where everything you knew is gone, what would you miss most? What would you try to rescue from the rubble? The answers of our two protagonists turn this into a haunting tale…
“The Fifteenth Saint” by Ursula Whitcher follows Seventh Judge Emenev, as he negotiates a complex world, the political balance of which is changing. The four points of order (the army, the judges, the people and artificial intelligence) shift dramatically towards the army, which is vehemently anti-artificial intelligence. Emenev must rely on his wits, and deciphering advice from his artificial “book,” to skirt real and present danger. The world building is just enough and you are left pondering what exactly the Judge’s book is. A beautifully crafted gem that bears re-reading.
“Boomerang” by Bill Johnson & Gregory Frost starts off much like a Star Trek episode, with a scientific ship arriving to explore the coldest spot in the universe. When faced with a life-threatening situation, it is the ship’s AI, Arin, that suggests a novel solution. The story recycles many tired tropes yet manages to combine them into a different enough arrangement with a satisfying end. Worth reading for Arin.
“The Second Labyrinth” by Chris Willrich delves into Greek mythology and goes somewhere a bit different with it. It begins with Nímar falling into a trap set by Atsáli, the artificer, on the orders of her father, where she seems to go from one empty reproduction of her world to the next. As she roams this labyrinth between worlds, she finds a message from Atsáli suggesting how she can find true freedom, if she has the courage.
In “Lemuria 7 Is Missing” by Allen M. Steele, the novella starts by listing planes and naval ships that went missing in mysterious circumstances. It then segues into talking about a lunar space shuttle that went missing along with two pilots and four space tourists. Even if the reader is not a fan of Bermuda Triangle conjecture, the recounting of events in retrospect slowly drags them in. There is the soap opera theory, with a love triangle amongst the six people missing, or the alien abduction theory, with the mysterious lights. However, what makes the story interesting is its structure, with many viewpoints from different sources, including one of the passengers. The reader can put the pieces together and decide for themselves which theory they support and enjoy a good shudder at the end.
Read Mina’s complete review here.
Tangent Online also treats us to a new reviewer for the latest Analog. László Szegedi’s entertaining review discusses an thrilling off-world adventure novella by Frank Wu & Jay Werkheiser, a postapocalyptic tale by Black Gate writer Mark W. Tiedemann, a Raymond Chandler-esque noir in space by Brian Hugenbruch, and this month’s second alien contact story by Allen M. Steele.
“Poison” by Frank Wu & Jay Werkheiser
I really wouldn’t like to live on planet Aine, the premise of this story as both the environment and the aliens are terrifying, and I am sure I would certainly die just after a few weeks. The authors managed to set up an exciting world with an action-packed story which could totally be turned into a major blockbuster movie. Feels like setting the vibe of the TV show 24 into the distant military future, filled with politics, intrigue, and lots of shooting. A highly entertaining read!
“One for Sorrow” by Richard Gregson
The fun, unique sound of the narrator with hangover telling about a dystopian London in the near future sets the tone for this tale. I was really glad to read a cli-fi with an interesting plot, dealing with the problem of e-waste but also creating another one with the solution… Quite a nice read.
“Collateral Damage” by Jen Downes
Even though Mars has been in SF for decades, it still serves as an interesting location in new stories. The way the author fills the red planet with docking bays and machines adds a unique character to the plot. The conflict — a mech going haywire and causing the damage in the title — totally fits the world just like its resolution, but I would rather read a whole novel starting from this premise.
The audio version provided in the Analog podcast is also fun and entertaining and definitely worth a listen.
“Been Riding with a Ghost” by Brian Hugenbruch
Have you ever wanted to read a noir set in space in the style of Raymond Chandler? This feeling is exactly what you get while reading this story. “Light-skippers” try to get through space, connecting to each other via loose friendships, trying to make their fortune. Even though its plot is not something you can really grab, it has a nice sentimental vibe.
“Rare, No Box, Fair Condition” by Allen M. Steele
As a non-US resident, I was always fascinated how frequently popular culture appears in American literature. Well, not in case of SF: I kind of miss mentioning other franchises in some stories, as in the classic SF movies or novels that weren’t published in their world at all. This is not the case with this story which boldly refers to Star Trek, Star Wars, Asimov’s, Astounding Stories, and other science fiction franchises or publications. Alas, Covid is built-in smoothly just as it happened indeed. The author uses simple story telling with believable characters to tell the story of a first contact going haywire. He manages to tell a nice tale in the style of the so popular Storage Wars show in just two pages.
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.
May/June 2023 will feature “Lemuria 7 Is Missing,” a thrilling new novella by Allen M. Steele. See if you can figure out the solution to this harrowing mystery! We’ve also crammed in an exciting novelette by R. Garcia y Robertson. Here the challenge is to survive the “Mars Gambit.” Don’t miss either tale.
We have a deeply moving story about a young person and a “Sexy Apocalypse Robot” from Sandra McDonald; Andy Dudak plunges us into an extremely tense tale about “Games Without Frontiers”; Chris Willrich provides us with clues for escaping “The Second Labyrinth”; we meet “The Fifteenth Saint’ in Ursula Whitcher’s new story; and Zack Be lets us know why “The Visions Are Free After Exit 73.” The perils of the “Boomerang” are revealed in a new story by Bill Johnson & Greg Frost; Lavie Tidhar breaks our hearts at the “Zoo Station”; and Tom Purdom provides us with an “Exit Contract.”
Robert Silverberg’s Reflections tends “The Garden of Deleted Words”; “Not Prediction, but Predication: The True Power of Science Fiction” is the subject of Ray Nayler’s Guest Editorial; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net discusses the complicated process of “Translations”; Kelly Lagor’s Thought Experiment delves into “Shakespeare, Freud, and the Unconscious in Forbidden Planet; Kelly Jennings’s On Books reviews works by Stephen King, T. Kingfisher, John Scalzi, Kelly Robson, 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.
“Lemuria 7 is Missing” by Allen M. Steele
“Games Without Frontiers” by Andy Dudak
“Revolt of the Algorithms” by Robert R. Chase
“Mars Gambit” by R. Garcia y Robertson
“Exit Contract” by Tom Purdom
“The Fifteenth Saint” by Ursula Whitcher
“Sexy Apocalypse Robot” by Sandra McDonald
“The Visions Are Free After Exit 73” by Zack Be
“Boomerang” by Bill Johnson & Gregory Frost
“Zoo Station” by Lavie Tidhar
“The Second Labyrinth” by Chris Willrich
Taurus Tanka, by Terri Yannetti
What if Pomegranates, by Laurel Winter
A Ghazal for the Unstranded, by Kelsey Dean
Notes from the Interplanetary Ambassador, by Joshua Gage
Three Hearts as One, by G. O. Clark
A Caution: On Being One of the Invisibles, by Robert Frazier
Guest Editorial: Not Prediction, but Predication: The True Power of Science Fiction, by Ray Nayler
Reflections: The Garden of Deleted Words, by Robert Silverberg
On the Net: Translations, by James Patrick Kelly
Thought Experiment: Shakespeare, Freud, and the Unconscious in Forbidden Planet, by Kelly Lagor
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.
When an encounter with a ghost suggests to young Aleyara that there may be a world beyond the one told of in her species’ stories about their arboreal home, she and a band of friends set out to discover the truth, but their biggest challenge may yet be waiting for them even if they can make it home…
That’s this issue, in “Aleyara’s Descent,” by Christopher L. Bennett.
Then “The War Against the Bugs” has proven to be a popular story premise for a long time, but it’s turned on its head, when the war leads to a fragile alliance with some of the “bugs.” And there’s something corrosive at the heart of the tenuous peace, which might just lead to a return of the old bloody days for both peoples… Find out in “Poison,” by Frank Wu and Jay Werkheiser.
We also have a genuinely speculative fact article in “Astronautical Explanations for ’Oumuamua” by Duncan Lunan, plus much more from ML Clark, Mark W. Tiedemann, Allen M. Steele, Kelly Lagor, Sean McMullen, Jen Downes, and others, along with all our regular columns.
Here’s the full TOC.
“Poison,” Frank Wu & Jay Werkheiser
“Aleyara’s Descent,” Christopher L. Bennett
“The Last Romantic on the Belliponte,” M.l. Clark
“If Evening Found Us Young,” Mark W. Tiedemann
“One for Sorrow,” Richard Gregson
“Hail and Farewell,” Joel Richards
“Collateral Damage,” Jen Downes
“Of Laboratories and Love Songs,” Kelly Lagor
“Kuiper Pancake,” Michèle Laframboise
“Forlorn Hopes,” John Markley
“Saving Galileo,” Sean McMullen
“Been Riding with a Ghost,” Brian Hugenbruch
“A Place for Pax,” Colin F. Mattson
“Argument from Consequences,” Mary Soon Lee
“Like Emeralds Between Their Teeth,” Jo Miles
“Astronautical Explanations For ‘Oumuamua,” Duncan Lunan
“Words, Music, and Information,” Edward M. Wysocki, Jr
“Rare, No Box, Fair Condition,” Allen M. Steele
Horizon, David C. Kopaska-merkel
Searchin’ Every Which A-Way, Robert Frazier
Guest Editorial: The Dystopia Of Culture? Emily Hockaday
In Times to Come
The Alternate View, John G. Cramer
The Reference Library, Sean Cw Korsgaard
Upcoming Events, Anthony Lewis
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
F&SF’s editor is Sheree Renée Thomas. Last year she would post her thoughts on each issue to Facebook, though there’s no sign of her continuing that trend in 2023.
Here’s the Table of Contents.
“The Dire Delusion” by Matthew Hughes
“A Truth So Loyal and Vicious” by Fatima Taqvi
“On the Mysterious Events at Rosetta” by Fawaz Al-Matrouk
“Amrit” by Kiran Kaur Saini
“In Time, All Foxes Grieve Westward” by Lark Morgan Lu
“A Conjure Horse in San Ouvido” by Ferdison Cayetano
“Highway Requiem” by T.R. Napper
“The Lucky Star” by Dr. Bunny McFadden
“For the Benefit of Mr. Khite” by Zig Zag Claybourne
“Time and Art” by Barbara Krasnoff
“I Paint the Light with My Mother’s Bones” by K. J. Aspey
“We are Happy to Serve You” by Margaret Dunlap
“Titan Retreat” by Ria Rees
“Knotty Girl” by Melissa A. Watkins
By Starlight, by Gretchen Tessmer
Silverlocks, by Gretchen Tessmer
The Wren in the Hold, by Shaoni C. White
Without Any Sound But the Sea, by Shaoni C. White
Project Exodus, by J.A. Pak
Editorial: Meteoric, Lunar by Sheree Renée Thomas
Books to Look For by Charles de Lint
Films: Embodying Buddha by Karin Lowachee
Films: Sand… by David J. Skal
Chapter and Verse by Alex Jennings
Science: Sundials by Jerry Oltion
Curiosities by Paul Di Filippo
Cartoons by Arthur Masear, Lynn Hsu, Nick Downes
Cover art by Maurizio Manzieri for “The Dire Delusion” by Matthew Hughes
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 $47.97 in the US) — edited by Sheila Williams
Analog Science Fiction and Fact (208 pages, $8.99 per issue, one year sub $47.97 in the US) — edited by Trevor Quachri
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (256 pages, $10.99 per issue, one year sub $65.94 in the US) — edited by Sheree Renée Thomas