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Asimov's Science Fiction March/April 2017 - Vol. 41 Nos. 3 & 4 - (Whole Numbers 494 & 495)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Tomislav Tikulin
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine / eMagazine  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 25 February 2017

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

The March/April issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is the 40th Anniversary Issue and has stories by Damien Broderick, Will McIntosh, Bill Johnson & Gregory Frost, Alan Smale, Ian R. Macleod, Suzanne Palmer, Sarah Pinsker, Dale Bailey, Rich Larson, Andrea M. Pawley, Ian Creasey, Gregory Norman Bossert, and Terry Bisson, along with the usual poetry and columns.

The March/April issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is the 40th Anniversary Issue and it's a good one!

The fiction begins with "Soulmates.com" by Will McIntosh. -+- Daniel signs up with an on-line relationship service and hooks up with Winnie who seems his ideal mate. They have some on-line meetings but when Daniel wants to take it to the next level, he finds out that Winnie is a simulation. Things get pretty hellish for him from there in this great little story.

"Number Thirty-Nine Skink" by Suzanne Palmer -+- Kadey, our narrator, is actually a machine that can manufacture small animals and plants. Kadey is part of a team deployed to the planet Kelomne for "selective, sustainable enhancement of the lifesphere". The human part of the team, Mike, has died, but Kadey has continued the mission. This gets to be a bit difficult but things get better at the end. Nice look at an artificial intelligence.

"Three Can Keep a Secret" by Bill Johnson & Gregory Frost -+- I'm not really sure of the real name of out narrator as he has adopted the persona of a magician called Prospero the Great. He also has an enhancement made from the mind of his Uncle Leroy. This is all to enable him to pull off the assassination he has been hired to do. But there are a lot of great twists and turns along the way in this delightful tale. Hope Johnson & Frost give us another story with this guy.

"The Ones Who Know Where They Are Going" by Sarah Pinkser -+- In this brief tale, a child has to be kept in a cellar or the city will crumble. She wants to break out and starts out to do so. Interestingly told, bittersweet tale.

"Invasion of the Saucer-Men" by Dale Bailey -+- One of a series of tales Bailey is writing using cheesy old science fiction flicks, but doing something serious with them. This one is a take on the old "teenagers save Earth from aliens" cliche. A good twist on the idea

"Kitty Hawk" by Alan Smale -+- In this alternate history, Wilbur Wright has died in an accident before the famous first flight at Kitty Hawk. Orville's sister, Katherine, winds up taking his place and this has a profound effect on history. Well-told, but the scope of the changes strains credulity a bit.

"Cupido" by Rich Larson -+- Marcel has developed pheromones that can help people fall in love and earns money for his grandmother's cancer treatments by spraying it at certain people. But one job proves to be a bit harder for him to pull off. Another good story.

"A Singular Event in the Fourth Dimension" by Andrea M. Pawley -+- Olive is actually a refurbished robot bought to help a young couple by becoming their daughter. She has to deal with prejudice from her "maternal grandmother". A beautiful touching tale.

"The Wisdom of the Group" by Ian R. McLeod -+- Samuel is part of a group that seems to know the best business decisions to make to be successful. But there is something wrong with him and he is kicked out of the group. What can he do? Chilling little tale.

"After the Atrocity" by Ian Creasey -+- Violeta Ruiz has developed a way to duplicate people and had been hired to make copies of a terrorist who killed many people. She is not happy when she finds out why. This seems to go a long way to make its point.

"Goner" by Gregory Norman Bossert -+- Char is fascinated by the spaceship pilots that have been converted to nanotech so they can go on long missions. When it turns out that one of these pilots is his friend's father, things go a lot farther for him. Pretty good.

"We Regret the Error" by Terry Bisson -+- A kind of epistolary tale which is a series of corrections of media stories. Amusing.

The issue concludes with the novella, "Tau Zero" by Damien Broderick. -+- Ship is the teenage genius son of a teenage genius couple that hit it big in the lottery. They have used their money to investigate the "margin between metaphysics and real physics" by way of the Tao. There is much Taoist thought woven through the story. When things go seriously wrong one day, Ship finds out some disturbing things about his past. If you are interested in the Tao, you might like this story.

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