Asimov's Science Fiction May/June 2017 - Vol. 41 Nos. 5 & 6 - (Whole Numbers 496 & 497)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Jim Simpson
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov Magazine (print/digital) ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 28 April 2017
Links: Asimov's Science Fiction / How to Subscribe / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The May/June issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is just perfect with every story a gem.
The fiction begins with "On the Ship" by Leah Cypress. -+- Our narrator is a child on a spaceship looking for a planet on which her and the others on the ship can live. They are landing on the sixth planet in a group of twelve they are checking out, the previous five being unsuitable. But there is a reason why the ship is called the St. Louis. A good story to begin the issue.
"Come As You Are" by Dale Bailey -+- A drug called headspace allows you to access someone else's personality for three hours. Either it's directly imprinted from someone's mind or a reconstruction called a retread from someone like Richard Nixon. Dave has been doing them for a while but his experience with Maggie leads him into another pathway. Interesting look at this idea.
"Good Show" by William Preston -+- Pete has been working as a freelance film critic, assisted by Megs. A strange-looking trio ask them to a special screening which seem to be part of a disaster movie. But is this just a movie? Good characters in a well-written tale.
"The Escape of the Adastra: Asha's Story" by James Gunn -+- This is the first in a series of stories related to Gunn's series of novels that started with Transcendental. Here, Asha and Ren are on the run from a galactic federation that has decided that Earth is a menace and must be destroyed. A good beginning. I will look forward to the next story.
"Night Fever" by Will Ludwigsen -+- Alternate history with Charles Manson in the New York City disco scene of the Seventies. Told in a series of excerpts from books and articles (including one by a Leslie Van Houten) about the horrific events that happened. It features luminaries of the time like Truman Capote and Steve Rubell and a quick cameo I won't spoil. It features an unforgettable disciple of this version of Manson and some bizarre testimony from him. Just perfectly done.
"Tired of the Same Old Quests?" by Peter Wood -+- In a classic fantasy world, the role-playing game is Suburbs and Cubicles, taking the place of war. Very amusing.
"The Best Man" by Jay O'Connell -+- Our narrator works as a PR man, explaining problems with various products, usually the result of either corporate error or hacking. But when he falls prey to an odd virus, he looks at things differently. Another well-told story.
"Triceratops" by Ian McHugh -+- In this near-future tale, mammoths and Neanderthals have been brought back. This story does a good job exploring the possible consequences of such a thing.
"Persephone of the Crows" by Karen Joy Fowler -+- Polly is ten years old and envies her younger friend Isabelle who sees fairies and has a better life. She wishes her father would not drink as much as he does. But her life does not change for the better when the wish comes true. Very good.
The issue concludes with what they describe as a "complete short novel", "The Runabout" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. -+- This is the latest story in Rusch's Diving series, chronicling the exploits of the Boss and her crew as they dive through abandoned ships in space, the better to find technology to aid them in their battles with the Empire. Here they are in the Boneyard, the graveyard of ships thousands of years old reportedly part of the mysterious group called the Fleet. The Boss wants to explore the larger ships they call Dignity Vessels but they are getting evidence that one of them has a malfunctioning anacapa drive, something that can be fatal to those not bearing a genetic marker making them immune. To their surprise, the malfunctioning drive is in a small runabout which supposedly would not be fitted with the drive. Their diving reveals even more startling secrets. A good thing about this story is that you don't really have to be familiar with the series to understand what is going on. Rusch skillfully waves in the details you need. It is so good, it will make you want to read the other stories.