Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Oct. 2020 (Issue 125)

We have original science fiction by Todd McAulty (“The Ambient Intelligence”) and Jenny Rae Rappaport (“Everything and Nothing”), along with SF reprints by Caroline M. Yoachim (“The Shadow Prisoner’s Dilemma”) and Ken Liu (“Byzantine Empathy”). Plus, we have original fantasy by P H Lee (“The Vampire of Kovácspéter”) and Naomi Kanakia (“Everquest”), and fantasy reprints by Stephanie Malia Morris (“Forty Acres and a Mule”) and Minsoo Kang (“The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, along with our book and media review columns. Our feature interview is with CL Polk. Our ebook readers will also enjoy an excerpt of Cory Doctorow’s new novel, Attack Surface.

In This Issue: Oct. 2020 (Issue 125)

Editorial

Editorial: October 2020

Be sure to catch the editorial for a rundown of this month’s content, and of course our news and updates.

Science Fiction

The Ambient Intelligence

The air over Chicago was thick with drones. There were at least two dozen I could see from the beach. Most were small, no more than slow-moving specks against the clouds, probably simple reconnaissance units. But at higher altitudes the big Venezuelan military birds prowled, formidable machines the size of Buicks. They moved through the sky with purpose. I had the suit zoom in on one, high over the lake.

Fantasy

Forty Acres and a Mule

My parents’ farm has shrunk, as old things tend to do. The shed, the workshop, the paddock with its doubled wire fences and chicken coop—all squat and rain-blackened, coming into focus as I step from the car as if I have put on glasses or wiped rain from a window. The house itself stands straight-spined beyond the pear tree, gray in the drizzle, more withdrawn than the last time I visited. The tree has not changed.

Author Spotlight

Science Fiction

The Shadow Prisoner’s Dilemma

Vivian sat at a café opposite Cass. Everything around her had a gritty, dingy quality. Even Cass looked run down, their face deeply tanned and distressingly wrinkled. They were old now, many decades past being the child that Vivian remembered. She looked down at her hands, so different than the black shadows that she’d grown accustomed to seeing during all her years as a Shade—the skin was covered in age spots and hung loose on the bones.

Fantasy

The Vampire of Kovácspéter

The village of Kovácspéter was plagued by a vampire, which was increasingly embarrassing. The year was 1873 and Hungary was on the march to modernity. They had their own prime minister, their own constitution, and their own economic development plan. Rails were being laid and industry was being developed. The future was industrial, prosperous and, most importantly, happening right now.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Reviews: October 2020

This month, Chris Kluwe delves into Maria Dahvana Headley’s new translation of Beowulf, then jumps back into contemporary life by reviewing Richard Kadrey’s newest Sandman Slim adventure, Ballistic Kiss.

Science Fiction

Everything and Nothing

Start with a romance: a man and a woman who are wildly and irrevocably in love with each other. Or two men. Or two women. Or two people, because life is beautiful and complex. Just know that these Lovers are important. The fate of the galaxy rests on their shoulders—because, of course, the fate of an entire portion of known space can be determined by two people in love. The laws of physics are remarkably vulnerable to the laws of love.

Fantasy

The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations

The Grand Philosopher Ancient Leaf once expounded that a man who kills another out of passion or greed is condemned as a murderer, and one who kills ten people is reviled as a maniac, but one who causes the death of hundreds of thousands in pursuit of personal glory is often revered as a great personage. The Grand Historian Silver Mirror utilized the quote in describing the senseless nature of the Wars of the Four Princes and the Six Grand Lords.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Media Review: October 2020

Are you looking for a new tabletop RPG? Maybe Star Trek Adventures is for you! Aaron Duran boldly reviews the core rulebook.

Science Fiction

Byzantine Empathy

You’re hurrying along a muddy path, part of a jostling crowd. The commotion around you compels you to scramble to keep up. As your eyes adjust to the dim light of early dawn, you see everyone is laden down with possessions: a baby wrapped tightly against the chest of its mother; a bulging bed sheet filled with clothing ballooning over the back of a middle-aged man; a washbasin filled with lychees and breadfruit cradled in the arms of an eight-year-old girl.

Fantasy

Everquest

Gopal knew before he booted up the game—a Christmas present from his dad—that his character would be some form of elf or human, because the other races were all ugly, and he didn’t play games to be ugly. And he knew too, although he didn’t say it, that his character would be a girl. He always played girls online, although he’d be ashamed if anyone knew it, precisely because it played into the online belief that most girls in most games were “really” men.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Interview: C.L. Polk

C.L. Polk is the World Fantasy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Witchmark, which was also nominated for the Nebula, Locus, Aurora, and Lambda Literary Awards. It was named one of the best books of 2018 according to NPR, Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, the Chicago Review, BookPage, and the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog. Her newest novel, The Midnight Bargain, is upcoming in 2020 from Erehwon Books. She lives in Alberta, Canada.