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Asimov's Science Fiction - June 2016 - Vol. 40 Nos. 06 - (Whole Numbers 485) by Sheila Williams
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Dominic Harman
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 26 May 2016

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

The June 2016 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Jay O'Connell, Dominica Phetteplace, Sarah Pinkser, Mercurio D. Rivera, Rick Wilber, and Paul McCauley, along with the usual poetry and columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction's June 2016 issue is here and it's a good solid issue.

The fiction begins with "Clearance" by Sarah Pinsker. -+- Our narrator is hawking dental supplies at a trade fair in Orchid Beach, New Jersey. She looks at a number of souvenir items on the clearance shelf to find a gift to bring home to her daughter, Maya. With her daughter on vacation at a locale called Cove of the Collapsing Seas, she sees similar items. Interesting and amusing tale.

"Unreeled" by Mercurio D. Rivera -+- Jonathan had been driving recklessly and had a bad accident. His son Stevie was in the car and had a kind of brain trauma called Acquired Savant's Disorder. He repeats things he's heard verbatim. His wife, Viv, has just returned from a journey into space in which "the pixels of her personality" had been "streamed into the maw of a supermassive black hole". This process is called "unreeling". Jonathan finds her behavior odd. She has been a different person, although actually more agreeable. Anna Georgiades tells him that her husband Greg, who went on the same journey, has also undergone a personality change. He returns home from a party with these people to find a change in Stevie. What is happening? This one ends with a real chill. Quite unsettling.

"Rambunctious" by Rick Wilber -+- Emma is nine years old and lives with her Grandpa Posey and Grandma Edna in Pass-It-By Key, Florida. When her grandmother talks about aliens coming to take them away, Edna thinks she's losing her marble. But as the story goes on, it becomes obvious that she isn't. Nicely told in Emma's voice and with a very good, very poignant ending. There's an in-joke I won't spoil. Great story.

"Rats Dream of the Future" by Paul McCauley -+- Science reporter Sarah speculates on the disappearance of scientist Tom Harvey and a big story that she missed. Nicely done.

"Project Symmetry" by Dominica Phetteplace -+- This is part of a continuing series that began with "Project Empathy" (March 2016) and "Project Synergy" (April/May 2016) -+- It is a series of diary entries from Bel, "who works for Blue Cup, a restaurant chain that puts a high value on serving its customers" and her meeting with the central character from the second story, Angelina, "a social curator at an exclusive club called the Reserve, professional party guest and model wrangler". (Quotes from my previous reviews). Bel has only recently discovered that an AI chip (a Watcher) was implanted in her brain. Angelina has just had to have her chip removed and Bel offers to help with her recovery. Angelina advises Bel on negotiating her life as an actress on a soap opera. But her life takes on complications which Watcher helps her with. This is a very interesting series of stories. I would expect that the next one would focus on Angelina. I'll look forward to it.

The issue concludes with the novella "What We Hold Onto" by Jay O'Connell. -+- Sophia Bauer's mother is in a coma and not expected to recover. Her marriage to Michael has ended and her sons are on the West Coast. The year is 2066 and climate change has flooded much of the Earth, leaving many homeless and unrooted. A group of such people called Nomads had developed. They have body modifications that permit them to process a lot of data and Sophia has hired a Nomad called Concord to help deal with her mother's accumulated stuff. This starts a journey for her and her simplification of her life. Good, well-crafted and consistently interesting.

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