Disease Collectors, Sea Worms, and Alien Ghost Ships: November-December 2023 Print SF Magazines

Disease Collectors, Sea Worms, and Alien Ghost Ships: November-December 2023 Print SF Magazines

November-December 2023 issues of Analog Science Fiction & Fact,
Asimov’s Science Fiction, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Cover art by 123RF, Shutterstock, and Alan M. Clark

This is another great batch of print magazines, with a tale of a failing space colony by Jeff Reynolds (in Analog), an exciting new Quiet War novella by Paul McAuley (in Asimov’s), and a tale of mysterious AIs on a moon of Saturn by Geoff Ryman and David Jeffrey (in F&SF).

The November-December SF magazines are packed with brand new fiction from Gregory Benford, James Patrick Kelly, Ray Nayler, Robert R. Chase, Christopher Rowe, Michael Cassutt, James Sallis, Geoffrey A. Landis, Wendy N. Wagner, Bruce McAllister, Rajnar Vajra, Dominica Phetteplace, Kevin J. Anderson & Rick Wilber, R. K. Duncan, and lots more. See all the details below.

Sam Tomaino, the long time short fiction reviewer at SF Revu, explores the latest Analog.

“The Eiffel Tower of Trappist-1D” by Jeff Reynolds

Kate, Ernie, and Harv live on Trappist-1D, a colony that is failing. Mankind had had wars with the Uddaell and the Essi with the latter destroying everything on Earth. They have signed peace treaties with both but Trappist-1D is not getting any interstellar traffic anymore. Harv gets an idea. Ernie is a talented sculptor and he can recreate smaller versions of the monuments, etc, on Earth that the Essi destroyed and they would become a tourist attraction. They recreate the Eiffell Tower, the Taj Mahal, Mount Rushmore, and other great structures and wait for the tourists. What happens proves a surprise. Great little story!

“The Disease Collector” by Tom Jolly

In 2230 AD, a disease called the Death Mask virus killed 97% of the human race. It is determined that humanity had suffered from this plague sometime in the past. But since it did not kill everybody, it must be weaker. Peter Van is one of a group of time travelers looking for the disease in the past. But there is just one problem… Perfect little tale.

“Tool Consciousness” by Auston Habershaw

Seen in previous stories (“Applied Linguistics” in Jan/Feb 2019, “Proof of Concept” in May/June 2022 & July/August 2022 “Punctuated Equilibrium”), our narrator is a shape-shifting alien called a Tohrroid. The creature finds itself again involved with the Thraad from “Proof of Concept.” He has been working for Ada, a member of the Dryth race at limiting the population of changing consortiums of Thraad. He is getting bored with having to do this over and over again…

“The White Tiger” by Mark Pantoja

A very mixed group travels to salvage/rescue a valuable ship that had been badly damaged in an alien attack that killed all on board except for a robot. The operation is not easy and we are given a group of diverse characters to pull it off. Good story.

“While the Rat’s Away” by Kate MacLeod

Sister April, Brother August, and four other members of a commune had contracted with a man named Kolya to travel to another planet for about six months while they are in a deep sleep. They wake up early because two stowaways had used up what was keeping them asleep. They identify themselves as Mr. Spectre and Ms. Ardala. They tell the commune some surprising news. Amusing little tale.

The fiction concludes with the novella, “Flying Carpet” by Rajnar Vajra.

Jackson Monroe is the IT expert for Hartford’s Police Department and is called in when two and, then, three families are found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. Someone hacked computer systems so those home security systems failed to detect it. He is assisted by his two wives, who also work for the police department and a cyber expert from outside. They use some of the computer systems in this near future in a new way and come to a surprising conclusion… This is another great story from Rajnar Vajra but fills me with sadness as this will be his last story. We might have seen these great characters again.

Rajnar Vajra passed away on May 16, 2023. To add something to this review, I reprint the obituary I wrote for him for the Prydonian Renegade, a fanzine I write and edit…

Read Sam’s complete review here.

I’m delighted to see that Rich Horton has started reviewing short fiction at his blog, Strange at Ecbatan. He kicks it off with a look at the latest Asimov’s.

Paul McAuley’s novella, “Blade and Bone”… is outstanding. It’s set on Mars, some centuries after the end of the Quiet War, which McAuley chronicled in a series of exceptional stories and novels. This Mars is only partly terraformed, and life is difficult. Groups of “Trues,” who had established a harsh empire earlier, predicated on maintaining the “true” human genome despite advances that allow people to live in the outer Solar System and other harsh environments, raid farms and small cities, murdering indiscriminately. The protagonist, Lev, is a middle-aged mercenary, who had hoped to retire until his previous mission ended terribly. He’s hired on with a group that has a contract with an ancient uploaded brain, who wishes for them to recover some relics from one of his descendants — one of her fingerbones and her vorpal blade. The group is chasing the Trues who apparently stole these relics… It’s a dark story, but not quite a hopeless one. It’s exciting, and thoughtful, and mildly twisty.

James Patrick Kelly writes a column for Asimov’s, and for a long time was a very regular contributor — with stories almost every June. But as there aren’t June issues any more “Embot’s Lament” comes in November-December. It’s a good story — Embot is a “timecaster” — a sort of AI that records a person’s life experiences and transmits them to the future. Its job this time is Jane, who is stuck in a terribly abusive marriage. She is finally trying to get out — and Embot is tempted to help, even though that’s against the rules…

“Berb by Berb” is set in the same future as other Ray Nayler stories like “The Disintegration Loops” — one in which the US recovered a crashed flying saucer in 1938, and tech derived from that radically altered World War II and after. This story is set in an area of the US near a lab at which there was an accident with the alien tech. The result is that assemblages of — junk, I suppose — coalesce and become sort of robots. The protagonist had worked at the lab, and now lives in the area, dealing with the occasional “visiting” berb. What are berbs really? What do they do? Who knows? Maybe even they don’t. And the story — resonating a bit with the ideas about intelligence in Nayler’s excellent first novel The Mountain in the Sea — lets us ask the questions too.

“The Four Last Things” is the prize story in this issue (along with “Blade and Bone”.) Christopher Rowe, over the past year or more, enthusiastically discovered the great Cordwainer Smith, and of course there was influence. Influence transmuted, naturally, through Rowe’s own striking imagination. The Four Last Things, in Catholic theology, are Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell. Here we have the crew of a “mule ship,” arriving at the planet Ouest’Mer, which is the home of strange sea-living worms, who make noises that may or may not have meaning as they “drum” in the ocean. Each of the four crew members reacts differently, interprets differently, based on their nature, their history — and each are stressed by disaster. It’s a weird story, an evocative story, a mysterious story. The Smith influence is at once evident, and indirect. The weirdness evokes Smith, the feeling that this is an organic future, not a version of the present day. But the imagination is all Rowe’s. (I will suggest another writer whose (rare) fiction I thought of while reading this story — John Clute, especially his novel Appleseed.)

Marguerite Sheffer’s “The Disgrace of the Commodore” is a curious brief piece about a ship’s commander who lost his ship to the British in 1807, and in the story is in what he thinks is Purgatory — he’s in a ghost ship as his real ship is disassembled…

One last comment — I was amused to note that this issue features four writers in their 70s or older — all who were contributing to Asimov’s in the 1980s or 1990s and still are today. (Taylor, Chase, Kelly, and Ward.)

Read Rich’s complete review here.

Victoria Silverwolf reviews the latest F&SF at Tangent Online. Here’s a sample.

“The Many Different Kinds of Love” by Geoff Ryman and David Jeffrey takes place on Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. Deep in the ocean that lies under thick ice, an artificial intelligence communicates with a submarine containing a different kind of sentience, made up of a huge number of memories taken from human beings. They come into conflict when the need to mine iridium from the moon becomes a higher priority than looking for life… a complex story that does not contain any living human characters…

In “All That We Leave Behind” by Charlie Hughes, the members of a book club meet to discuss a strange and disturbing volume. The situation changes when the author arrives. This horror story creates an uneasy mood right away, and sustains it throughout the text. The author manages to make the terrifying aspects of the plot both subtle and gruesome. This chilling tale is sure to satisfy those readers seeking the darkest kind of fantasy.

The narrator of “Meeting in Greenwood” by R. K. Duncan is an agent of a secret government organization that battles spirits of the dead who try to overthrow the progress made in civil rights since the War Between the States. He travels back in time and to the land of the dead on a railroad to the site of an infamous massacre of African Americans by white supremacists. The story is full of political content, which goes beyond obvious outrage at the violent incident noted above. Certain American politicians are mentioned by name in a way that may cause controversy…

“Indigena” by Jennifer Maloney is a very brief story in which a strange cloud of mist envelops humans on an alien planet, causing a bizarre transformation. This tiny tale, although it contains the trappings of science fiction, feels more like a fantasy poem. The author’s frequent use of italics, dashes, and ellipses adds to this feeling.

In “High Tide at the Olduvai Gorge” by Kedrick Brown, a wormhole in space that opened up fifty thousand years ago carried some humans to another habitable planet. Over the millennia, they developed highly advanced technology. In the near future, they return to Earth as conquerors. Against this background, the plot deals with an athlete who has to watch the people from the other planet take over his sport. The premise is intriguing, and the unusual way in which it is used adds interest…

In “Fools and Their Money” by Meighan Hogate, a vulture-like being takes advantage of humans, stealing their wealth when they die. It leads a group of adventurers on a typical fantasy quest through a deadly swamp, although it warns them that they are unlikely to survive… full of dark humor and a gruesomely satiric look at fantasy clichés. The protagonist is both appealing and revolting, a delicate balancing act indeed… Readers who appreciate grim wit will enjoy this sardonic tale.

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

Contents of the November-December 2023 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction

Asimov’s Science Fiction

Here’s Sheila’s summary of the latest issue of Asimov’s, from the website.

Our November/December 2023 issue is bursting with fiction. We have two remarkable novellas stuffed into our pages. Dominica Phetteplace’s intense tale about “The Ghosts of Mars” tells the taut story of a lonely teen’s attempt to survive against all odds on the red planet. Kevin J. Anderson & Rick Wilber’s “Death of the Hind” furthers the nail-biting adventures of the characters who first appeared in their Readers’-Award-winning novelette “The Hind.” This time, the action takes place at the end of the journey. Don’t miss either story!

Paul McAuley escorts us to a very different Mars where soldiers confront dangerous raiders to secure the “Blade and Bone”; Ray Nayler tells the intriguing tale of “Berb by Berb”; Christopher Rowe reveals “The Last Four Things”; new author Prashanth Srivatsa makes it possible to “Meet-Your-Hero”; new author Marguerite Sheffer surreally describes “The Disgrace of the Commodore”; Frank Ward discloses what happens “In the Days After”; John Alfred Taylor wistfully reveals why “The Open Road Leads to the Used Car Lot”; Robert R. Chase takes us to sea to explore “Neptune’s Acres”; and James Patrick Kelly presents us with a poignant “Embot’s Lament.”

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.


“The Ghosts of Mars” by Dominica Phetteplace
“Death of the Hind” by Kevin J. Anderson & Rick Wilber
“Blade and Bone” by Paul McAuley


“The Open Road to the Used Car Lot” by John Alfred Taylor


“Embot’s Lament” by James Patrick Kelly
“Berb by Berb” by Ray Nayler
“Neptune Acres” by Robert R. Chase
“Meet-Your-Hero” by Prashanth Srivatsa
“The Four Last Things” by Christopher Rowe
“The Disgrace of the Commodore” by Marguerite Sheffer
“In the Days After” by Frank Ward


Ahead of the Market by Ken Poyner
Voyager 1 Prepares to Meet a Stranger by Daniel A. Rabuzzi
Your Clone Line Could Use a Reboot by Robert Frazier
Oratorio by Joshua Gage


Editorial: Celebrations 2023! by Sheila Williams
Reflection: Homo Superior-Us? by Robert Silverberg
On the Net: Chatty by James Patrick Kelly
Next Issue
On Books by Kelly Jennings
The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

Contents of the November-December 2023 Analog Science Fiction & Fact

Analog Science Fiction & Science Fact

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

The November/December 2023 issue of Analog has a big novella by Rajnar Vajra, novelettes by Rosemary Claire Smith, Jeff Reynolds, and Mark Pantoja, and short stories and flash by Michael Cassutt, David Lee Zweifler, Tom Jolly, James Sallis, Michael Capobianco, Ron Collins, Monica Joyce Evans, Auston Habershaw, Gregory Benford, Wendy N. Wagner, Stephen R. Loftus-Mercer, Michèle Laframboise, Andrew Dana Hudson & Corey J. White, Kate MacLeod, Geoffrey A. Landis, and Bruce McAllister. There’s also a science fact article by Kevin Walsh, and all the usual features.

Here’s the full TOC.


“Flying Carpet,” Rajnar Vajra


“Apollo in Retrograde,” Rosemary Claire Smith
“The Eiffel Tower of Trappist-1d, “Jeff Reynolds
“The White Tiger,” Mark Pantoja


“Proxima Centauri Blues,” Michael Cassutt
“Wasted Potential,” David Lee Zweifler
“The Disease Collector,” Tom Jolly
“Subtraction,” James Sallis
“Hyppolyta Flyby,” Michael Capobianco
“Home for Christmas,” Ron Collins
“Andromeda,” Monica Joyce Evans
“Tool Consciousness,” Auston Habershaw
“The Far Dark,” Gregory Benford
“An Infestation of Blue,” Wendy N. Wagner
“The Science Education of King Cormac,” Stephen R. Loftus-mercer
“Living on the Trap,” Michèle Laframboise
“Family Business,” Andrew Dana Hudson & Corey J. White
“While the Rat’s Away,” Kate Macleod


“Going Through a Phase,” Geoffrey A. Landis
“Let’s Play,” Bruce Mcallister


Dune And Superdune, Kevin Walsh


Genetic Certainty, Ken Poyner
What Xenologists Read, Mary Soon Lee


In Times to Come
The Alternate View, John G. Cramer
Biolog: Auston Habershaw, Richard A. Lovett
In Memoriam: Rajnar Vajra, Trevor Quachri
The Reference Library, Rosemary Claire Smith
Brass Tacks
Upcoming Events, Anthony Lewis

Contents of the November-December issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

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 Many Different Kinds of Love” by Geoff Ryman and David Jeffrey


“Portrait of the Dragon as a Young Man” by J. A. Pak
“Fools and Their Money” by Meighan Hogate

Short Stories

“Karantha Fish” by Amal Singh
“Longevity” by Anya Ow
“All That We Leave Behind” by Charlie Hughes
“Twelve Aspects of the Dragon” by Rachael K. Jones
“Meeting in Greenwood” by R. K. Duncan
“The Pigeon Wife” by Samantha E. Chung
“Los Pajaritos” by Sam W. Pisciotta
“Pluto and Tavis D Work the Door” by Brooke Brannon
“Indigena” by Jennifer Maloney
“New Stars” by Christopher Crews
“High Tide at the Olduvai Gorge” by Kedrick Brown
“Prisoner 121 is Guilty” by Renee Pillai


Through the Keyhole, Lisa M. Bradley
No One Now Remembers, Geoffrey A. Landis
Titan, Geoffrey A. Landis
Like Other Girls, Marissa Lingen
Orchid Dragon, Mary Soon Lee
Phoenix Dragon, Mary Soon Lee
Science Fiction Novel in Four To Seven Words, Chet Weise
The Music Of Neptune, Brian U. Garrison
Lesser Realities, Brian U. Garrison
The Canceled Sky, Roger Dutcher
Triple Knot, Marisca Pichette


Editorial: At the End of Daybreak, Sheree Renée Thomas
Books to Look For, Charles De Lint
Books, Elizabeth Hand
Science: Space Dust, Jerry Oltion
By the Numbers 9, Arley Sorg
Coming Attractions
Index to Volumes 144 & 145
Curiosities, Rich Horton
Cartoons: Arthur Masear, Lynn Hsu, Nick Downes, S. Harris, Mark Heath.
Cover by Alan M. Clark for “The Many Different Kinds Of Love”

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 $55.90 in the US) — edited by Sheila Williams
Analog Science Fiction and Fact (208 pages, $8.99 per issue, one year sub $55.90 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

The November-December issues of Asimov’s and Analog are on sale until today, December 12; F&SF until January 1. See our coverage of the September-October issues here, and all our recent magazine coverage here.

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