We are starting to get a 20/20 view of how the new year is shaping up. The January/February 2020 issue contains two dynamic novellas. Sheila Finch’s “Not this Tide” begins in the future and extends into the unforgiving past of WW 2 London, Maunsell sea forts, and V-2 Rockets. Allen M. Steele takes us once again to the planet of Tawcety. This time we voyage to the Cetan capital and unravel some mysteries just as we encounter the utter alienness of “The Palace of the Dancing Dogs.”
We’ll find more extraterrestrials, along with people who don’t quite fit in, when Neal Asher introduces us to “An Alien on Crete”; Leah Cypess pens a devastating tale that reveals why history truly is “A Pack of Tricks”; new author Mar Catherine Stratford shows us the secrets of “The Third Shift”; the children in new author B.S. Donovan’s tale discover that Mom will do her best to ensure “You’ll Live”; new author Meredith Lozaga examines the fragility of truth and “The Refraction of White Lies”; truth is further compromised when Dominica Phetteplace administers “The Antidote”; in Jean-Louis Trudel’s first tale for Asimov’s, electrifying intrigue occurs on “The Way to Compostela”; Doug C. Souza returns to Asimov’s with a haunting tour of “The Kaleidoscope City”; and Timons Esaias throws us into an unrelenting situation where there’s only time to “Go. Now. Fix.”
Robert Silverberg’s Reflections column considers an alien past to understand why coins once carried the image of “The Pharaoh’s Trachea”; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net expects us to “Live Long and Whatever”; Paul Di Filippo explores works by Samuel Delany, Elizabeth Bear, David Morrell, Marlon James, G. Willow Wilson, and others; plus we’ll have an array of poetry and additional features you’re sure to enjoy.
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by Sheila Finch
Oslo, December 2035
Embarrassing enough that the press was hailing her as the first centenarian to be awarded the prize. Limping across a stage to accept it would never do. Worse still—forgetting what she wanted to say.
Time to look over her speech again. She’d put her extensive notes somewhere in the hotel room when she first arrived, record of a long life of activism. There was a time when Mary hadn’t needed notes to give a speech, but lately she feared her mind was becoming increasingly dreamy.
Where had she put the notes? Her grandson would’ve scolded that she hadn’t committed them to some form of electronic storage. Of all her offspring, and her offspring’s offspring, she’d felt most bonded to this one. In any case, there was something about writing the old-fashioned way with a pen that appealed to her heart.
As if thinking about her grandson called him into existence, the hotel’s comm system pinged. Her heart jolted as she read the name of her caller. The small control panel that had appeared urged her to touch a button, and a small hologram of Gabriel stood on the table before her. READ MORE
by Neal Asher
Erickson slipped his car out of gear and took the handbrake off to set it rolling down the road. The wheel felt leaden without power steering, but that kicked in when he started up the engine at the bottom of the hill and came to a stop at the junction. He wasn’t sure why he was doing this now. Old Maria had died last year and would no longer be rushing out with her shopping list and endless complaints about her health, and endless detail about her feud with her neighbor Yannis. Maybe it reminded him of past stability and a life rooted in the prosaic.
At the junction he watched a big 4x4 trundle past, uniformed figures inside peering at him suspiciously. There were soldiers in the mountains. This wasn’t exactly an astute observation since just a short drive from his village put him in sight of the “No Photographs” signs, the chainlink fences and the radar installations sitting on some of the mountaintops. But now their presence had become overt. He had seen canvas-backed trucks loaded with them, jeeps driving uniformed bigwigs and once an armored car sitting on a track leading up to one of the wind farms. READ MORE
by Jane Williams
We meet by chance one autumn evening
the wind blowing intermittent gusts propelling
old gold leaves along the street outside a pub
by Sheila Williams
January 2, 2020, will mark Isaac Asimov’s centennial birthday. Although his actual birthdate is unknown, it occurred sometime between October 4, 1919, and January 2, 1920, and Isaac chose to celebrate it on January 2. He was born in Petrovichi, a small rural community located about 250 miles southwest of Moscow. In 1923 Isaac and his family emigrated to the United States. As most readers know, he grew up in Brooklyn, where he worked in his father’s candy store and dreamed about becoming a science fiction writer.
In addition to his myriad accomplishments both as a fiction and nonfiction author, Isaac cofounded Asimov’s in 1977. I joined the staff in 1982 and worked with this remarkable man for ten years until his death in April 1992. Isaac’s weekly visits to the office were joyous occasions. I saw him many times outside the office as well—at conventions and book fairs, at many of his public speeches, at a party that Ballantine Books hosted in his honor at the Hayden Planetarium, at a couple of parties in the swanky Doubleday apartment above the Doubleday bookstore on Fifth Avenue, and on numerous other occasions. I don’t have a distinct memory of all of these events, but I thought I’d reminisce about a couple of festivities that do stand out. READ MORE
by Robert Silverberg
The past is a foreign country,” L.P. Hartley famously said, in the memorable opening lines of his novel The Go-Between. “They do things differently there.”
They do things differently in the future, too, which is where so much science fiction takes place, and that is a big reason why we read it. But a great deal of superb science fiction has been set in the past, and we go to it eagerly for the same sort of strangeness that future-oriented science fiction offers. I think of such classic time-travel tales as L. Sprague de Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall, which took us back to pre-medieval times, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court, John Taine’s dinosaur epic Before the Dawn, and Connie Willis’ Fire Watch, and I could cite a great many other examples. READ MORE
by James Patrick Kelly
Do you use drugs? Of course you do!
According to a 2017 Consumers Report study www.consumerreports.org/prescription-drugs/too-many-meds-americas-love-affair-with-prescription-medication/#nation, more than half of all Americans take multiple prescription drugs on a regular basis. In fact, four different prescriptions are the average. Our consumption of these drugs has increased 85 percent in the last twenty years, courtesy of Big Pharma www.rationalwiki.org/wiki/Big_Pharma and its relentless marketing. Do all of these drugs work? No. Are some of them unnecessary? Absolutely. Americans spend an estimated two hundred billion dollars every year on unnecessary or improper medication. There is little doubt that the prescription drug industry has many problems related to utility, side effects, cost, and availability. READ MORE
by Paul Di Filippo
Youth Writes Unknowingly to Posterity
Two of our most revered and talented writers have both recently proclaimed in more or less public forums that they may very well have delivered their final novels. Pleading advancing years and diminished capacity for—and interest in—the marathon exertions of novel writing, both Samuel Delany and John Crowley are trying to warn their legions of readers that good things do not last forever. And so Delany’s Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders and Crowley’s Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr might eventually come to occupy a special place in the canon of each author: a capstone and criterion by which to judge the full arc of each career. READ MORE
by Erwin S. Strauss
It’s time for our annual holiday look into the winter convention season. I plan to be at Arisia and Boskone, as well as the observance of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Isaac Asimov; see you there? Plan 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