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November/December 2020

Search no further for the perfect holiday gift! Asimov’s November/ December 2020 is stuffed with two splendid seasonal tales. Spend “Christmas at the Hilbert Astoria” with Santa as he investigates a disturbing mystery. Sam Schreiber’s clever cover story is his first tale for Asimov’s. We’re thrilled to have a multiple-holiday-spanning new novella from Connie Willis! “Take a Look at the Five and Ten” while unwrapping a complex story about memory, families, and much much more.

Will the reader or Chen Quifan’s first story for Asimov’s, “Forger Mr. Z,” unravel first? “Return to Glory” with Jack McDevitt’s intriguing homage; “Return to Earth” of the far future with James Gunn; Alaya Dawn Johnson returns to our pages with a deeply perceptive look at “The Mirages”; best-selling author Kevin J. Anderson and long-time Asimov’s pro Rick Wilber give us an exciting story about “The Hind”; while also new to Asimov’s author Kate Maruyama creates a poignant “Footprint”; Zack Be tells us to “Pull it from the Root”; Marissa Lingen considers enigmatic alien visitors and “Grief, as Faithful as my Hound”; and the frozen terror of “The Long Iapeten Night” by Julie Novakova will unsettle even the bravest among us.

The Citadel of the Old Ones may show up in Robert Silverberg’s Reflections: “Finding the Mountains of Madness”; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net reveals “What Information Wants”; Paul Di Filippo’s On Books reviews works by Zenna Henderson, James Blaylock, Eoin Colfer, Alistair Reynolds, Neal Asher, and others. 

Get your copy now!

NOVELETTE

Take a Look at the Five and Ten

by Connie Willis

Everybody has a traumatic Christmas memory, and mine was always Christmas dinner, partly because in my family (a term used very loosely)—it’s actually a series of dinners—Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, and a New Year’s Eve buffet, and if my one-time stepfather Dave had his way, we’d also have St. Lucia’s Day and Boxing Day and Twelfth Night dinners, and who knows what else.

He’s very big on family  and family gatherings, even though he’s been married at least half a dozen times and has terrible taste in women (including where my mother was concerned), which means he thinks of me as his daughter, even though he was only married to her for about fifteen minutes back when I was eight, and is always really nice to me, even to the extent of helping me with college, so it’s hard for me to say no to coming.

I’m not the only sort-of-relative he invites. There’s also Aunt Mildred, actually a great-aunt of Dave’s second wife, and Grandma Elving, the grandmother of his fourth. Got all that straight?

 READ MORE

Short Stories

Christmas at the Hilbert Astoria

Sam Schreiber

“You’ll have to forgive the delay,” the concierge told Nick, smiling conspiratorially over the Talathello marble counter. “It’s our busiest time of the year.”

The hospitality program punctuated the nonsensical assertion with a knowing wink.

“Can’t imagine that joke ever gets old,” Nick said, tucking his hands into his red flannel overcoat and rocking on the heels of his black workman’s boots. The concierge’s static-gray face went blank for a moment as more sober-minded algorithms kicked in.

Booking a room at the Hilbert Astoria was, by definition, always possible. But booking the right room could be a slippery proposition. The Vice Regent of Svartalfheim had spent a month waiting for the palatial suite he’d demanded, or so Nick had heard.

Nick’s own requirements, while nowhere near as extravagant, were exacting in their own way. Though of course he hadn’t been a guest at the Hilbert since before his face had been splashed across Coca-Cola’s 1933 advertising campaign. Nick suspected things had changed since then.

“The existence of your suite has been successfully theorized, sir,” the concierge said a moment later. “If you would give us, say, another hour?” READ MORE

Poetry

After a Year of Solitude

by Lora Gray

The onboard medic
says not to worry.
Outworld parasites

READ MORE

Departments

Guest Editorial: Where We Came From Is Where We're Going

by Allen Steele

The following essay is adapted from a speech made at the second Asian Pacific Science Fiction Convention (Apsfcon 2019) in Beijing, China, on May 26, 2019.

I’m not only a science fiction writer, but also a science fiction historian, albeit of the armchair variety. The history of the SF genre fascinates me just about as much as any SF novel I’ve ever read. I’ve often used SF history as the background for my own work, such as my novel Arkwright, and lately my interest has only become stronger as I’ve explored the genre’s origins.

One of the most wonderful things that’s come out of my studies is an appreciation for SF’s roots and just how truly international they are. More importantly, though, if we accept the idea that examining history can be a reliable means of forecasting the future—a major reason why it’s important to preserve the past and study it—then it’s possible that we may be able to perceive the direction where we’re headed by looking back to see where we’ve come from. READ MORE

 

Reflections: Finding the Mountains of Madness

by Robert Silverberg

H.P. Lovecraft is best known for his powerful tales of supernatural horror, many of them dealing with Elder Gods who once conquered the Earth and now lurk in the oceanic abyss, awaiting their moment to emerge and take possession of our world once more. This series, now collectively known as the Cthulhu Mythos, can technically be called science fiction, I suppose, since we are told that the Elder Gods are alien visitors from another world. But the tone and affect of the stories is that of creepy fantasy (“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming”), and many of them deal not with sinister Cthulhu and his eerie companions but with the modern cults that have sprung up around them. READ MORE

 
 
 

On the Net: What Information Wants

by James Patrick Kelly

copy that

I believe that the first time I mentioned Creative Commons (CC) https://creativecommons.org/faq/ here was in the February 2005 installment, entitled “Afraid of the Darknet.” Those were sunnier times for the internet, when all was play and promise and the darker shadows of social media had yet to cloud its future. Creative Commons, if you haven’t heard, is a non-profit organization of the copyleft movement https://copyleft.org, which seeks to make information more accessible by bringing it into the public domain, or commons. It offers an alternative to copyright, which reserves all uses of information to whoever owns it. Note that under copyright, those who create information do not always own it, as when Michael Jackson bought the rights to the Beatles songbook https://www.biography.com/news/michael-jackson-paul-mccartney-beatles-music-catalog. Later Sony bought those rights from Jackson’s estate. READ MORE

 
 

The SF Conventional Calendar

by Erwin S. Strauss

With the Covid-19 situation, always check with events before making final plans, in case of late cancellations. I'll be at PhilCon, ChessieCon and Arisia. Also consider BayCon, OryCon, WindyCon and TusCon. Plan now for social weekends with your favorite SF authors, editors, artists, and fellow fans. For an explanation of our con(vention)s, a sample of SF folksongs, and info on fanzines and clubs, send me an SASE ... READ MORE

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