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Current Issue Highlights

 

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July/August 2021

Asimov’s July/August 2021 issue features a thrilling new novella from Jay O’Connell! Jay’s story is filled with intrigue, danger, and lots of thinking “Outside the Box.” After too long an absence, the dynamic writing duo of Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling return to our pages with their bizarre tale of “Fibonacci’s Humors.” You won’t want to miss these exciting stories.

You won’t want to miss the rest of our amazing line up, either!  Gregory Norman Bossert provides us with an enthralling vision of  “The Prisoner’s Cinema”; Fran Wilde redefines what it means to be a “Seed Star”; Gregory Feeley takes us way off planet to look at the future through the eyes of “The Children of the Wind”; L.X. Beckett returns to Earth for the tense tale of “The HazMat Sisters”; new author Taimur Ahmad upends a relationship with a disturbing “Tweak”; Kristine Kathryn Rusch explains a lot about humans while watching extraterrestrials enjoying “Alien Ball”; Will McIntosh shows how life unraveled spectacularly once “Philly Killed His Car”; Michael Swanwick reveals the shocking truth about “Huginn and Muninn and What Came After”; and psychic pet boarder Celtsie unearths the secret to “Giving Up the Ghost” in Megan Lindholm’s eerie new novelette.

Robert Silverberg muses on “Memories of the Space Age” in his latest Reflections column; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net explores “The Tech that SF Made”; Peter Heck’s On Books considers works by Charles Stross, Naomi Novik, Stina Leicht, Sheree Renée Thomas, and others. Plus we’ll have an array of poetry you’re sure to enjoy.

Get your copy now!

Novella

Out of the Box

by Jay O'Connell

“Nayla!”

Was my name being shouted over the music? There came a knock, then my name again, louder this time. I’d been deep in the code and hadn’t slept in . . . days? But then my circadian rhythms are sketchy at best.

Figuring Papa was at the door I shouted back, “Busy!”

The door cracked open, a rivulet of hall light spilling over the threadbare carpet.

“I’m naked!” I lied. I had on underwear, but this stops Papa cold.

“Put on a robe.” I finally recognized Carlos’ voice with a shiver that tingled from head to toe. He was waiting off to one side, invisible behind the doorframe.

“Okay! Okay! jeeze!”

I looked at my hands to be sure I wasn’t dreaming. I pinched my cheek. It hurt. I’d been thinking of calling Carlos, but resisting the impulse. The boy from down the street who had been my best and only friend forever . . . until he hadn’t.

The usual ache ran down my forearms into my hands, pulsing in my fingertips. I rubbed my forehead and moaned as hard-won tendrils of logic evaporated from my forebrain like spilled acetone. Damn it.

I wriggled into a forest green political T-shirt that fell halfway to my knees. Even after I’d abandoned the radical greens, the Eco-Savior logo had bugged the hell out of Carlos. He’d have to deal with it. READ MORE

Novelettes

The Prisoner's Cinema

by Gregory Norman Bossert

The warden only braved the freefall link between the control and studio modules for two reasons: the arrival of a prisoner via orbital shuttle, or the departure of a prisoner via the incinerator, their ashes dumped to fall traceless back to Earth.

The most recent arrival had been fourteen months ago—the former Vice Chairman for Mergers and Acquisitions whose failure to subdue New Zealand on schedule had led to his disgrace—and the most recent departure had been five weeks after that, when that same worthy had choked on a chicken nugget. The commentators who covered the livestream from the studio module 24/7 debated for a week on whether the cause of death had been stupidity or gluttony. The other prisoners knew a suicide when they saw one; the vice chairman had had neither the purpose-of-will nor the perseverance to survive the humiliation of being broadcast round the clock as an example to the entire world of the cost of disappointing the board of directors.

That had left only four residents of the studio module, and as they were all sitting around a table playing California high/low, it was a sure bet that the rumble of the large intermodule lift meant a new arrival was eminent. The commentators on the livestream were probably already gossiping about the incoming prisoner, but Nhe’eng had cut the audio feed again, which meant reduced rations for a week but a few hours of peace from the constant blather. READ MORE

Poetry

Holding Destiny

by Jane Yolen

You can hold it at arm’s length,
measuring its possibilities,
the round world of it,
the possible floods.

READ MORE

Departments

Editorial: The 2021 Dell Magazines Awards

by Sheila Williams

When the 2020 Conference on the Fantastic was suddenly postponed to 2021, we all hoped that we’d be back in Orlando, Florida, for this year’s presentation of the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. Alas, with the Covid-19 pandemic still not under control, the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) opted to hold the 2021 conference virtually. The conference did an excellent job of this, and we were able to bestow our awards at a virtual ceremony on March 21, 2021. The award is cosponsored by ICFA and Dell Magazines.

The winner of the 2021 award was Jazmin Collins, a junior at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. Jaz­min first learned of our award through her professor and former ICFA president Jim Casey. Originally from New Mexico, Jazmin has a double major in English and computer science with a minor in Japanese. She is obsessed with HCI—human-computer interaction—and builds brain kits for VR at home during her spare time. Her favorite authors include Naomi Novik and E. Lily Yu. Jazmin received the 2021 Dell Magazines Award and a check for five hundred dollars for her bittersweet tale about the lives of sentient flowers told via “My Gardening Journal.” READ MORE

 

Reflections: Memories of the Space Age

by Robert Silverberg

On Saturday, May 30, 2020, a Falcon-9 rocket was launched at Cape Canaveral in Florida, sending NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the orbiting International Space Station. Three days later the astronauts returned, their capsule making splashdown off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. For me this is recent news, just a few months old, because copy for print-format publications must be written far in advance, and you are reading this next year. It may already have had a sequel by then, for another Falcon-9 rocket is due to be launched in a few weeks, this one carrying three more American astronauts and one from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

There is nothing new, by now, in sending astronauts to the space station. What is significant about that May 2020 launch is that, for the first time, the spacecraft was designed and built by a private corporation, SpaceX, an enterprise of the dynamic and eccentric entrepreneur Elon Musk, whose main company has given the world the Tesla electric car. Musk is one of a small group of billionaires—Jeff Bezos of Amazon is another, and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic a third—who are putting up their own funds and those of the corporations they head in order to resume mankind’s exploration of space after much too long a hiatus. If the Age of Space can be said to have begun when the Soviet Union put the first Sputnik into orbit in 1957, this can be seen as the beginning of the next phase, since all previous ventures beyond the atmosphere have been sponsored and controlled by government agencies. READ MORE

 
 
 

On the Net: The Tech That SF Made

by James Patrick Kelly

spaced

For as long as I can remember, if you recommended a story about space to a science fiction reader—or writer, for that matter—the assumption would be that you were referring to outer space. Stars, planets, and the vehicles that might transport us to them have been the most common settings of our genre from its earliest days. Jules Verne set the agenda in 1865 when he shot adventurers out of a cannon in From the Earth to the Moon http://gutenberg.org/ebooks/83, and H. G. Wells confirmed it in 1898 when his Martians paid us an unfriendly visit in The War of the Worlds http://gutenberg.org/ebooks/36. And our fascination with outer space continues to this day. Consider that three of the six novels nominated for the Hugo award http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/2020-hugo-awards/ last year take place on other worlds. READ MORE

 
 

On Books

by Peter Heck

Stross’s latest, billed as “A Laundry Files Novel,” is actually the start of a new series set a few years after the end of the main story arc of that series. There’s a whole new cast of characters, none of whom are involved in the magic-monitoring government agency that was the focus of the original series. All the key players, on the other hand, are “transhuman” magic-users—carrying on the series theme of a reemergence of magic into the modern world, in particular the return of the Elder Gods of H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional universe.

One group of protagonists is the Lost Boys —which includes a lesbian and a trans boy. (Yes, there’s a definite Peter Pan theme in this one, just as several earlier Laundry novels riffed on themes from spy novels or fantasy tropes.) Imp, the Lost Boys’ leader, is working to mount a definitive production of the original Peter Pan play. The group is crashing in an abandoned mansion near Kensington Palace—which we learn is actually Imp’s family home, lost when the ancestral fortune ran out. Imp and his gang acquire capital for the project and support themselves by magically assisted robberies. But their latest capers have attracted attention from a couple of people. 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’m hoping to be at ConFluence, if it’s not canceled due to the virus. In the meantime stay safe. 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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