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Asimov’s Science Fiction – August 2016 – Vol. 40 No. 08– (Whole Numbers 487)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Kinuko Craft
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine / eMagazine  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 27 July 2016

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

The August 2016 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Jason Sanford, Matthew Claxton, Sandra McDonald, Sean Monaghan, James Alan Gardner, Kathy Koja & Carter Scholz, and Sieren Damsgaard Ernst, along with the usual poetry and columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction August 2016 issue is here and it's a another good one.

The fiction begins with "Wakers" by Sean Monaghan. -+- For 33 years, Grayson has been the sole caretaker of a ship carrying other people who are cryogenically frozen. Five hundred and nineteen years ago, an explosion had set the ship off course and they would miss their planned destination. Other caretakers had come and gone before him. Hopefully, they would arrive at a habitable planet in three thousand years and whoever was still alive could be revived. He must wake someone else to eventually take his place. He chooses a woman named Seetha and explains the situation to her. She has an idea on how to improve their odds. Interesting tale.

"Toppers" by Jason Sanford -+- Hanger is a young girl who lives in a decaying Empire State Building in a New York City devastated by the mysterious mists. It is considered death to breathe in the mists and people must live above them. They wear suits to get around from one point of the city to the next, counting their steps because they can't see through the mists. Hanger's mother exposed herself to the mists and is gone. On a mission to another part of the city, Hanger sees a vision of what they call the Days-We-Knew before the mists and then encounters a strange woman named Estelle. Hanger finds out what the mists are and finds a way to stay alive. Imaginative, haunting story.

"The Mutants Men Don't See" by James Alan Gardner -+- Ellie is concerned that her son Liam might pull some stunt so that he'd activate the Spark gene and develop superpowers. The gene is something that may or may not be present and could be sparked by some sudden danger. She worries that he might be killed or injured by his dangerous behavior. He is approaching his 17th birthday, the cutoff date for the time, post-puberty, when the Spark was likely to take place. So she secretly follows him around to rescue him if necessary. There are surprising results in another good story.

"KIT: Some Assembly Required" by Kathy Koja & Carter Scholz -+- An AI becomes self-aware. It has the personality and memories of Christopher Marlowe, the 16th century playwright. We see glimpses of the real Marlowe's life and the activities of the new AI. The AI stretches out and takes over other systems, including ones with accesses to weapons systems. It finds its creator a callow youth and makes a special request. Nicely done variation of the classic cautionary powerful computer tale.

"Patience Lake" by Matthew Claxton -+- In a near future Canada in which orderly society has vanished, Casey is a veteran wounded in a terrorist attack. He is mostly a cyborg with parts continuously giving out. He winds up in a farming community in Saskatchewan where he encounters Sandra, a woman who runs a farm with her grandson and dealing with a corrupt local authority. They help each other out but life is never easy. A story well told.

"Kairos" by Sieren Damsgaard Ernst -+- This is a first published story. A biochemist, working on preserving animal life, has questions about her second husband's goal of make humans immortal. She muses on this while touring Charlemagne's ancient city of Aachen. An impressive debut. Ernst will be an author worth considering for a Campbell Award next year.

The issue concludes with "President John F. Kennedy, Astronaut" by Sandra McDonald. -+- In this alternate history, JFK had flown with the crew of Apollo 15 to the moon in July 1971. He had returned with an obelisk that the doctor who had saved his life in Dallas had told him about. The obelisk was an alien artifact that could benefit mankind and the doctor, who was really an alien has asked JFK to get it. But the government had confiscated it and it had wound up in the NASA's old Vehicle Assembly Building. Now it is generations later and much of the United States has sunk beneath the waves. A man calling himself Rendezvous, claiming to be a descendant of JFK, has hired the crew of a boat to take him to where the VAB is and retrieve it. Over the years, much fiction has mixed with fact and provides the backdrop for a great little tale.

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