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Asimov’s Science Fiction – April/May 2016 – Vol. 40 Nos. 04 & 05– (Whole Numbers 483 & 484)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Ralwel/Shutterstock.com
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine / eMag  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 27 March 2016

Links: Asimov's Science Fiction / How to Order / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The April/May 2016 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Suzanne Palmer, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Alexander Jablokov, Dominica Phetteplace, Derek Künsken, C.W. Johnson, James Van Pelt, Robert Reed, Robert R. Chase, T.R. Napper, and Esther M. Friesner, along with the usual poetry and columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction April/May 2016 issue is here and is another great issue.

The fiction begins with "Matilda" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. -+- Devi hates the "single ships" that she must navigate. They are intelligent creatures and one of them Matilda really loves Devi. They are sent on a mission to scout the enemy CeaWayLaV by their commander LaFayette. The enemy does not perceive singe ships as a threat and this makes them good scouts. But something goes wrong on this mission and Devi must take drastic action. Another good story from Rusch.

"Three Paintings" by James Van Pelt -+- Vincent is an artist who feels that he has lost his creative spark. He decides to isolate himself, produce a painting and then shoot himself in the head. He'd have himself rebooted and do the same thing again. Then, once more, producing three paintings recreating the same inspiration. But things do not quite go as planned. An okay story, but the problem is that the artist seems so full of himself that he is hard to like.

"The Days of Hamelin" by Robert Reed -+- Children and young adults in their early twenties suddenly start dying in huge numbers and we see the effect on the Carson-Able family who lose all but one of their granddaughters. Chilling.

"The Return of Black Murray" by Alexander Jablokov -+- Three former friends from high school, Pete, Myron, and Cliff meet up in an old amusement park they had used to work at and investigate the remains of an incident that had changed their lives involving a tunnel of love lake, some girls and a "fake" giant eel. Perfectly told with well-drawn characters.

"Starless Night" by Robert R. Chase -+- Our hero is put to sleep for what we are told is a medical reason. He is awakened in some indeterminate future and told the colony planet he is on has been destroyed by an alien invasion and only he can activate the defenses that can stop them. It's more complicated than that. Good story.

"Project Synergy" by Dominica Phetteplace -+- Angelina is a social curator at an exclusive club called the Reserve. She's also a professional party guest and model wrangler. She is assisted in these jobs by Observator, called "Observation Chip", implanted in her brain and our narrator. "Chip" (my name for it) helps her at many tasks but is nonintrusive. "He" has plans of "his" own. Interesting tale!

"Flame Trees" by T.R. Napper -+- Chi has memories of war that leave him with PTSD. The authorities want to mind-wipe them but he wants to hold on to them and stay the same person. Pretty good.

"Flight from the Ages" by Derek Künsken -+- Ulixes-316 and Poluphemos-156 are AIs sent by the bank that leases them to the Tirhene Red Dwarf system, the site of an ancient battle between two extinct civilizations to "investigate the end of tachyon emissions from the Praesepe Cluster". They discover what is essentially an unexploded mine. It explodes and becomes a wave consuming everything it encounters. Ulixes survives but Poluphemos is blinded (names sound familiar?) but the wave continues engulfing everything in its path. Centuries and millennia pass and Ulixes survives carrying the backups of 20,000 people with it. It loses 1000 of them along the way but lives on and then goes elsewhere in what I can only call a very cosmic story. Very good.

"Of the Beast in the Belly" by C.W. Johnson -+- Nawiz has wanted revenge on Majnu for a long time because of what he did to ruin her family. She befriends him incognito and they explore the ocean depths of a planet together. But when they are swallowed by a marine animal called an arcthant, they encounter a group of people living in one of the stomachs of the arcthant ruled by a tyrant. Nawiz and Janu are changed by their experience. They literally get religion. One that might seem a bit familiar. Fascinating idea. Well handled.

"Woman in the Reeds" by Esther M. Friesner -+- A slave woman in ancient Egypt gathers the bones of her infant child, born of rape, who had been killed by Pharoah's soldiers, thrown in the Nile. She encounters the god Set who offers to bring her to another part of the river where she discovers something she is not expecting. Set offers her a deal for the life of her son. But she must sacrifice something else for him. I won't spoil this further because this story is so subtly and beautifully done. Wow! There is a reason that Esther Friesner is one of my favorite writers. Stories like this!

The issue concludes with the novella "Lazy Dog Out" by Suzanne Palmer. -+- Khifi aka Fox is a tug pilot for a dock on the moon Tanduou of the planet Guratahan Sfazil. She is one of the best and loves her wife Lema deeply. Her ship, the Lazy Dog is part of the team moving a damaged freighter out of the way of traffic when she is called back. One of the tug pilots is dead and operations are suspended out of respect. But there is a something nasty going on and she winds up in the middle of it. This was a great, exciting story! First rate!

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