Asimov’s May/June 2019

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The good thing about having a subscription to a print magazine is it encourages me to actually read it. I always mean to read internet-based magazines, but I often never get around to them. The problem with podcasts is I’m always falling behind the most recent episode. It’s especially hard to keep up to date with podcasts that have extensive back catalogs. I have a greater incentive to read a print magazine, though, because I’ve already paid for it, so not reading it would be wasting money.

Something that occurred to me this issue is that they usually accompany poems with pictures, but other than the cover, the fiction doesn’t get pictures. I wonder why. Anyway, here’s a quick summary of the stories in this issue.

“Unfinished Business” by Bill Johnson features some interesting aliens, evolved forms of creatures from different eras in earth’s past such as giant bugs. “The Doing and Undoing of Jacob E. Mwangi” by E. Lily Yu takes place in a future Kenya in which everyone gets a minimum basic income and some members of society choose to just play video games all day instead of working. “The Memory Artist” by Ian R. MacLeod is a depressing story about a confused old woman wandering through a world of decay.

“Sacrificial Iron” by Ted Kosmatka involves two men on a long space mission who end up getting on each other’s nerves. I really liked this one. “Never the Twain Shall Meet” by Peter Wood is my favorite story this issue. A humorous tale about a man obsessed with the difference between tomato- and vinegar-based barbecue sauce arguing with his accidentally-created clone and slacker robot. Not only is it hilarious, but it’s also thought provoking. Having a duplicate of yourself around really makes you question the nature of identity.

“Chasing Oumuamua” by Sean Monaghan is the second story in a row featuring a narrator whose brother has dreadlocks. In this story, the narrator tries to convince her mentally ill brother to share a scientific discovery with NASA. “Recrossing Brooklyn Ferry” by John Richard Trtek is about a team sent back in time to capture other time travelers before they can change the future. I particularly liked the line, “Time would heal all wounds, even its own.”

“Not Only Who You Know” by Jay O’Connell is another good one. The narrator engages in a corporate negotiation with a head in a jar. “The Intertidal Zone” by Rahul Kanakia features an alien with body issues going through body modification. Finally, in “Gremlin” by Carrie Vaughn, a WWII fighter pilot befriends a gremlin who helps her take out enemy aircraft. The story continues into more modern times in part 2, and in part 3, the gremlin accompanies a descendant of her original friend on an interstellar voyage.

Overall, another solid issue with a good mix of stories.

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