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Asimov’s Science Fiction – October/November 2016 – Vol. 40 No. 10 & 11– (Whole Numbers 489 & 490) by Sheila Williams
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Karla Ortiz
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 28 October 2016

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

The October/November 2016 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Alexander Jablokov, Michael Blumlein, Octavia Cade, Michael Libling, Will Ludwigsen, Dominica Phetteplace, Sandra McDonald, Rich Larson, Susan Palwick and S.N. Dyer, along with the usual poetry and columns.

Asimov's Science Fiction October/November 2016 issue is here and it's a very good issue.

The fiction begins with "The Forgotten Taste of Honey" by Alexander Jablokov. -+- In what seems like a fantasy/medieval world, Tromvi travels around various places, trading in goods. Part of her job is to transport the bodies of people who have died back to the place where they came from. This is because the deceased's "home god" wants him or her back. On this trip, she winds up with the body of a woman named Remu. But getting her back to her home soil is not easy and she picks up someone living on her way. Interesting story and world with characters I'd like to see again.

"Eating Science with Ghosts" by Octavia Cade -+- This one is a nine-course meal, taken with a lot of alcohol, over nine different locations, with the ghosts of astronauts and famous scientists, some easily identifiable, some not. Good insights on some famous people and a good read.

"The People in the Building" by Sandra McDonald -+- A very bad day for people who work in a five-story office building on Tanner Boulevard in an unnamed city. From the opening, we know the people on the second floor are dead and those on the third floor "came to rescue the fragments of ancient gods from a nearby swamp". The situation unfolds gradually, getting more and more horrific. Good buildup of the horror.

"Wretched the Romantic" by Michael Libling -+- Richard used to be a advertising copywriter but quit badly and wound up blacklisted. Now, to the dismay of his wife, Emmy, he liked cutting lawns for a living. He also has a rich fantasy life with Lucy, the weather girl on the local television station. But when one of his customers asks him to help dispose of the cremated remains of her late husband, his life takes a very strange turn. Truly bizarre.

"Water Scorpions" by Rich Larson -+- Noel has an adopted brother, Danny, who is actually an alien survivor of a spaceship which crashed in the Sahara desert. He resents him because his mother has made him a replacement for a child she lost in the womb. The story develops nicely and has a good ending.

"The Leaning Lincoln" by Will Ludwigsen -+- Scott's father's friend makes civil war figures out of a lead ingot they found with writing on it. One of them is a figure of Abraham Lincoln that leans. But it always seems to be affecting things, like getting underfoot or tearing clothing. Is it cursed pirate lead that would have been used for making cannonballs? Can it do something about Scott's abusive father or prevent an injustice? Or will Scott himself have to take action? Another good story.

"Lucite" by Susan Palwick -+- Andrew is in the tenth circle of Hell, which is a gift shop. He's waiting for the tour bus to take him back home and winds up buying a soul in lucite. Actually, it's just the shell of a soul but it has a label, "Herbert Jonathan McManus 1940-2012. Sold in 1965 for a box seat at baseball stadium". He becomes curious and tries to find out something about McManus. He learns very little about McManus, but something about himself. Really interesting idea and very well written.

"Project Extropy" by Dominica Phetteplace -+- The latest in the series of the author's stories in her "Project cycle about artificial intelligence and a future San Francisco". This one revolves around Akiko and Noah (AI chips put into human bodies) from the previous story ("Project Entropy"). We see Akiko come to San Francisco and her difficulties as well as Noah's. I did not like this story as much as the previous ones and was not particularly interested in the characters. This is supposed to be part of a novel but this is not a very good chapter.

"When Grandfather Returns" by S.N. Dyer -+- The story begins hundreds of years ago when a troublesome boy called Thunder Cries is given up by his parents and is taken in by a kachina and becomes his foster child named Heat Lightning. He lives in two worlds with a blue left eye and a white streak in his hair. He eventually rejoins mortal people and prospers. As an old man he encounters "Turtle Devils" whom we know are Conquistadors. The story shifts to the present day with an old man named Strong Horse who had been a code talker during World War II and is a descendant of Heat Lightning. These come together and the whole story is fascinating and imaginative.

The issue concludes with "Choose Poison, Choose Life" by Michael Blumlein -+- Three women, Violet, Daisy, and Rose, all come to the town of Villa Gardenia and the two islands offshore. All three make what the introduction calls "desperate choices". Did not find this one very compelling.

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