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Asimov's Science Fiction January/February 2017 - Vol. 41 Nos. 1 & 2 - (Whole Numbers 492 & 493)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Maurizio Manzieri
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine / eMagazine  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 28 December 2016

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

The January/February 2017 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Robert Reed, Allen M. Steele, Tom Purdom, Lisa Goldstein, Octavia Cade, Sean Monahan, Jim Grimsley, Ray Nayler, Robert R. Chase, Jack Skillingstead, Stephen Baxter, and John Alfred Taylor, along with the usual poetry and columns.

The January/February 2017 Asimov's Science Fiction issue is here and it's a very great one to start the year with two Hugo-worthy stories!

The fiction begins with "Crimson Birds of Small Miracles" by Sean Monahan. -+- C.J. Penn has taken his daughters, Matilda and Jessie to the planet Ariosto to see the spectacular Crimson Birds show. There are 77,000 robotic birds that put on a show at sunset. Jessie is dying of a degenerative nerve disease that has taken away most of her motor functions and is killing her. They get to meet Shilinka Switalla, who created the birds, and watched the display with her. This was a truly touching story, beautifully written and will be on my shortlist for Short Story Hugo in 2018.

"Tagging Bruno" by Allen M. Steele -+- Sawyer Lee is retired from his command of the Coyote Federation Corps of Exploration but when his old friend, Susan Montero, president of the University of New Florida asked him to accompany a university group going up the Alabama River to bag and tag some of the boid population, he agrees to go. But the leader of the group is an alcoholic jerk and things do not go as planned. Steele's stories about Coyote are always a great read and this is certainly one of them.

"Still Life with Abyss" by Jim Grimsley -+- Our narrator is part of a research team studying the alternate timelines of an ordinary man named Austin Bottoms. In all the timelines, his life has no effect on anything and doesn't change much from one timeline to another. His researchers want to read some meaning into it all but cannot. It could be called "It's an Inconsequential Life" and it's not particularly interesting to read about.

"Fatherbond" by Tom Purdom -+- The Nabaltos are a ten-member family bond who are colonizing a planet. In the journey, the fatherbond head of the family, who was in charge of the children, is in need of prolonged therapeutic reconstruction and that has left Yang the responsibility of dealing with the wild child Rostoff. When the family arrived on the planet, an emissary of another species put restrictions on what they could do which Rostoff is rebelling against. This has begun to put lives in danger. What should Yang do? Another good solid tale from Purdom.

"Winter Timeshare" by Ray Nayler -+- Regina and Ilkay meet in Istanbul every year in different bodies. An utterly boring story.

"The Catastrophe of Cities" by Lisa Goldstein -+- When I see a story by Lisa Goldstein, I look forward to something special. And this is certainly it! Our narrator is Beth, who has returned to Los Angeles where she lived when she was a child. She wonders what has become of a friend of her adolescent years, Lila, who seems to have disappeared. Like girls in a movie or book, they got into all sorts of adventures and their chief one was investigating houses that had a shield in front of them and had a ship-like appearance. They even broke into them and found strange machines inside and passages to other such houses. One time, Beth sees something that tells her a bit about these houses which I will not spoil. I will says that this will make my Hugo Short list for Novelettes in 2018.

"Pieces of Ourselves" by Robert R. Chase -+- Joan Carter was able to foil a terrorist attack at Shackleton moon base, but the story of how she did it unfolds slowly. Okay.

"Destination" by Jack Skillingstead -+- Brad never goes outside but when his boss orders him to do so because of a directive from something called Training Temperament Priorities, he gets into a driverless vehicle and winds up in his hometown which he had left a long time ago. There, he learns a bit about how the world works. Interesting.

"The Meiosis of Cells and Exile" by Octavia Cade -+- This story is based on a real-life person, Lina Stern, a Soviet biochemist and physiologist who had saved many lives during World War II and who was "best known for her pioneering work on blood-brain barrier, which she described as hemato-encephalic barrier in 1921" (according to Wikipedia). She was arrested and put on a show trial for her involvement with the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and sent to Siberia. The story shows her traveling by train to Dzhambul in Siberia and the parts of personality and history (child, scientist, and academician) that she uses to cope with her situation. Really well done story!

"Starphone" by Stephen Baxter -+- Keeley Casella is given a special gift by her Aunt Dee, a small metal AU robot named George. She can ask George questions and one that immediately occurs to her is the Fermi Prarado: Where is Everybody? Keeley lives in a dome that had been set up before she was born for refugees from the flooding caused by global warming. Will Keeley and her generation be able to break out of what is called the Bottleneck? Good old fashioned science fiction with a positive future outlook.

"Blow, Winds, and Crack Your Cheeks" by John Alfred Taylor -+- Roger and Sharon visit their Fire Island summer house that they call Notopia. Will this next storm wipe it out? Will they have their last supper there? A sad, bittersweet tale.

The issue concludes with the novella, "The Speed of Belief" by Robert Reed. -+- Three representatives from the Great Ship have been sent to a world of intelligent rivers. These rivers have promised to give them four worlds to colonize but they require a human sacrifice. Mere and Rococo are human-machines and immortal, Amund is a luddy, a real biological human with a limited life-span. But the intelligent rivers have something else in mind than what they had offered. A very rich story and an interesting exploration of what life really is.

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