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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2022

Welcome to Asimov’s Science Fiction! Discover the Who’s Who of award-winning authors, stories, editorial insights, news, reviews, events… Come tour our universe!

EXCERPTS:
Snowflake
Nick Wolven

Goldie
Sean Monaghan

POETRY:
Messaging the Dead
Betsy Aoki

EDITORIAL:
Looking Backward
Sheila Williams

REFLECTIONS:
Fifty Million Monkey Selfies
Robert Silverberg 

 

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SNEAK PEEK

Asimov’s March/April 2022 issue features a blockbuster novella, “Blimpies,”by Rick Wilber. The story contains intrigue and revelations about the planet S’hudon. Will McIntosh’s long novelette about “Dollbot Cicily” is an equal . . .

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FROM THE EDITOR
Welcome to Asimov’s Science Fiction. Fulfilling a lifelong goal, I started my career with Asimov’s in 1982 believing it was the best magazine on earth. I still do.

ABOUT ASIMOV'S
Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine continues to bring together celebrated authors, new talent, and award-winning stories, poems, and articles as it has for over 35 years. The premier literary magazine in the genre, Asimov’s rewards readers with an exciting new trove of adventures in each issue that transport them on journeys examining the human experience across the Universe.

AUTHOR'S CORNER
The perfect gathering place to meet the Who’s Who of Asimov’s Science Fiction authors! We feature posts, articles, and podcasts from our writers. Come by frequently – you never know what you’ll discover! 

CURRENT ISSUE
Start 2022 off with two huge novellas! We’ve crammed our January/February 2022 issue to bursting. Nick Wolven spins a powerful tale about the cutthroat world of a touring rock band in the not too distant future. You won’t want to miss “Snowflake.” Discover an evocative alien landscape and a truly alien teppu in Sean Monaghan’s “Goldie.” On Karella, a human team must learn how to work together while uncovering the planet’s secrets.

A tense group of individuals must figure out how to resolve a “Long-Term Emergency” in Tom Purdom’s new tale; any hope for survival will depend on a great deal of skill and cunning in A.A. Attanasio’s “River of Stars, Bridge of Shadows”; a “Welcome Home” unsettles in new author Jendayi Brooks-Flemister’s short story; Joel Armstrong, who is also new to Asimov’s, digs deep to unearth “The Roots of Memory”; Ian Creasey paints a portrait of a dangerous...

MORE STUFF
A potpourri of resources both practical and whimsical – from Writer’s Submission Guidelines, the Calendar of Science Fiction events, and Asimov’s editorial archives to News you can use, the Asimov’s Index, Podcasts, and Cartoons.

More From Dell Magazines!

 

 

AN INSIDE LOOK

Snowflake

by Nick Wolven

So when my phone started up, jittering on the nightstand, I knew right away what it had to be. I pushed off the covers and went out on the balcony, holding the rail thinking, God, not again. Tokyo all lit up and crazy at this unholy hour of three a.m., and it made me feel worse, somehow, seeing those lights, like watching commercials for stuff you can’t afford. When my phone buzzed again I grabbed it and thumbed it and like I thought, it was Sam, freaking out.

“Let me guess,” I said. Thinking this was the one, you know, The One, and my heart stopped going for a breath.

But Sam said, “She’s all right. I mean, basically, no, but yeah, she’s all right.” Because that’s how Samira Gonzalez gets in a crisis, all fucked around and twisted up.

But here my heart was going extra hard, almost buzzing like a phone in my chest, shooting out notices and alerts.

“I’m coming.”

When I was ready I went out in the hall. There was Donal already coming from his room, face scrunched up going, “Really? Three a.m.? Like feckin’ jet lag wasn’t enough?”

So we go down together, me leading on the stairs, and when we get to fourteen, there’s Ames outside her door, titan-sized, bald, and totally unstoppable. He went into his pose when he heard us coming, stone-cold killer, murder in each wrist, like when in London he messed up those paparazzi. But when he saw it was us he pushed open her door.

“Bathroom. Sam’s with her.” Talking real soft. But if you knew him, you could see he was scared.

So we go in, quiet, and there it all was, like every single other time. She’d trashed the place. She always did. Lamps on the floor, clothes all over, the bed gunked up with food she liked when she was down, pizza and wings and spaghetti and sriracha—all that red—and seeing it I almost cried, even before I went in the bathroom and saw her.

“Help me,” Sam whispered. She was kneeling on a towel.

We took away the bottle. We got her panties where they belonged. I took her feet, Ames took her head, Sam and Donal sort of patted down her hands—it took all four of us to get her on her feet and start her walking, keep her alert.

“You do the Narcan?” I whispered to Sam.

“I didn’t, no. I don’t know what she took.”

I checked the bed. Mostly bottles. Tons of the wine we’d loaded up in Barcelona. A whole three-hundred-dollar Amelia lying empty in the sheets.

“No meds?” I was trying to be discreet, counting the bottles scattered around. White, blue, saffron, beige. Little, medium, big, gigantic. Stick-on labels now mostly peeled off. I tried to remember the new prescriptions, what was official, what not so much. It was all just medicine to her. Correctives, supplements, necessary treatments. All to get her close to something like okay.

“I don’t know,” Sam said. “I think she was trying to dump it down the toilet. I don’t, I can’t—”

“Take a sec.”

Meanwhile I could see she was starting to wake up. Her eyes going slitted and glimmering and suspicious, picking up how we were whispering. She’d be alert soon, then she’d be mad, then it would be dangerous to have her on her feet. We brought her to the couch and put a sheet over her.

“Paramedics?” I said.

Sam nodded. “On the way.”

“What do we do?” Donal started fidgeting like a child needing potty, picking up one foot, then the other. “I mean, what do we do?”

The same conversation we’d had a million times. Like a dream where you can’t move or scream, can’t change a thing.

Now she was moaning, kind of rolling. I knew what she wanted. I knelt beside her and put in the call, holding the phone up over us both, waiting for his face to appear in the screen. The connection was real bad, but I knew he would answer. He always answered. He the man with the answers.

The screen filled up with moving shadows, we heard a whispery sound of feet, and then he was there, wise and calm, in control.

Back where he was, it was bright noon.

“Coco, look. It’s Doctor Ali.”

Her eyes barely open. Two dark slits.

“Yes, Coco, it’s Doctor Ali.” His voice so warm, so gentle, so rich, I could see right away the effect he had. He always knew just what to say. “I understand you had an episode, Coco. Tell me, now, what seems to be the trouble?”

(I had the phone up close to her face, screen making watery flickers on her cheeks, but I could picture how he’d look at her, touching his beard, stroking his mustache, Doctor Ali, our savior, our saint.)

“I’m in LA, Coco, but I’m always here for you. Will you tell me, was it the dosage, Coco? Do you feel we need to adjust the dosage?”

Silence. But I knew she was listening. Hanging on his every word.

“The medications, Coco? Are you unhappy with the medications? Do we need to adjust the medications?”

 READ MORE

 

Goldie

by Sean Monaghan

One
Up here, at the edge of the biggest of the table mountains, had to be the best running track ever. Up here, Charlotte could really breathe.

And sharpen her wits at the same time.

Her apron shoes pounded in along the rocky track. She’d brought them from Earth and just as well, since the camp really didn’t have much in the way of decent manufacturing.

Charlotte ran at an easy pace, watching her footing. On her left, the forest started, scraggly at first and growing quickly into the substantial trees that occupied this part of Malale. Little birds darted out, mollusks chirruped, and puffs of petaled pollen made swelling yellowish clouds.

On her right was a cliff. Almost a sheer drop twelve hundred meters to the lush thick rain forest that filled the valley. A very different kind of forest, that one. Filled with creepers and bogs and things that could make you dead real quick.

Charlotte kept a good ten meters from the edge. Back where the last of the twisting roots and thin humus grasped at the bare rock. It was old, hardened sandstone that had become quartzite from eons buried deep. Or quartz arenite? Niall knew that stuff, but it was hard to keep track of.

Karella was still tectonically active. Other parts of the planet had volcanoes that blasted ash clouds kilometers high. Some places suffered earthquakes that would level even a modern city.

It was good hanging with Niall. His knowledge was bottomless.

Millions of years back this whole shield had been lifted up—continental crust floating over magma, in response to oceanic crust elsewhere sinking deeper. It was a stunning piece of geography. An area the size of a small country—sixty-eight thousand square kilometers—almost all on two levels; the table mountains, hundreds of them, and the dense, green valleys and plains, filled with nutrient rich sediments, supporting rainforest ecosystems that would take more decades to catalogue and understand.

Overhead a big bird screeched, gliding on thermals out above the valley. Charlotte slowed and watched. It was like a condor, with wide wings and a pointed head looking this way and that. Deep maroon feathers glistened in the sunlight.

Serge would tell her that it wasn’t a bird, strictly speaking. Convergent evolution, or standard solutions—feathers and light bones and so on—to the problem of flight. As far as she was concerned, birds were birds. The things that looked like monkeys were monkeys, the peccaries were peccaries, the snakes were snakes.

Insects were a whole other matter, of course. And the teppus.

The bird screeched again. It turned, hard, bringing in its left wing and dropping.

Its sharp eyes had spotted something. Some movement in the deep forest below.

Charlotte stopped, but couldn’t see anything moving down there. Maybe just the afternoon mist hanging over the canopy. Anyway, her eyes had nothing like the acuity of the bird’s.

It pulled out of its descent and rode through into level flight again.

Charlotte started running once more. It really was good to get away, to get her blood pumping. Another four kilometers back around to her starting point. So luscious to get out and smell the succulent scent of the forest, carried up on the same updrafts the bird was exploiting.

She stopped again. This time she did see movement.

Out on the vines. There was something big. Hanging below. Moving closer.

Charlotte grinned. Becs was going to be so happy. So happy.

Charlotte started racing back. The teppu was returning. The teppu. After so long.

Crawling along the vast, crowded vines that hung out across the valleys, linking mountain to mountain. Another whole area of study.

Becs would be thrilled. She’d been waiting. Hoping. About ready to give up.

Charlotte missed her footing. Stumbled on a root. Fell hard. Fell the wrong way.

She felt the sudden sharp pain of bones breaking in her right ankle. She tumbled on the rocks. He leg sparked at her. Felt as if she’d been lanced. Agony.

She came to rest maybe halfway to the edge, staring up into the wide, bright sky. Asaphaa, the big blue moon, hung there, gibbous and staring back at her.

Staring as if to say, Well, honey, you know you need to concentrate on where you put your feet when you’re out exercising.

“Very funny,” she whispered. Stars fluttered in her vision. She lay, breathing hard, letting the pain ebb. They were going to have to get her to the doc.

“Belt,” she said. “Could you call Becs and tell her that a teppu is coming?”

You are hurt,” her belt said.

“Yes.” Charlotte sucked in breath. She tried some of the fade exercises from the meditation spa Indra had dragged her along to a few years back. The ankle still hurt, still took practically all her focus. READ MORE

 






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