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Asimov's Science Fiction, July/August 2017

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"How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry" by Alexander Jablokov
"The Girl Who Stole Herself" by R. Garcia y Robertson

"Other Worlds and This One" by Cadwell Turnbull
"@lantis" by Rudy Rucker & Marc Laidlaw
"Gale Strang" by Michael Bishop

Short Stories
"Annabelle, Annie" by Lisa Goldstein
"An Evening with Severyn Grimes" by Rich Larson
"Transcendental Mission: Riley's Story" by James Gunn
"Weighty Matters: Tordor's Story" by James Gunn
"The Patient Dragon" by David Gerrold
"Field Studies" by Sheila Finch

"Wheelwork" by Jane Yolen
"Titan's Magic Islands" by Geoffrey A. Landis
"Vacation Checklist" by Salik Shah
"Grandfather Paradox" by John Richard Trtek
"Dead Star Reckoning" by Robert Borski
"Invasion" by Bruce McAllister
"Challenger: A Sedoka" by Jane Yolen

"Editorial: The 2017 Dell Magazines Award" by Sheila Williams
"Reflections: Sharing Worlds" by Robert Silverberg
"On the Net: Hold the Phones!" by James Patrick Kelly
"On Books" by Paul Di Filippo
"SF Conventional Calendar" by Erwin S. Strauss

Asimov's Science Fiction, July/August 2017, Vol. 41, Nos. 7-8 (Whole Nos. 498-499)
Sheila Williams, editor
Cover art by Bob Eggleton

212 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 20, 2017

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About the author

Sheila Williams

248 books56 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Sheila Williams is the editor of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine. She is also the recipient of the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Editor, Short Form.

Sheila grew up in a family of five in western Massachusetts. Her mother had a master's degree in microbiology. Ms. Williams’ interest in science fiction came from her father who read Edgar Rice Burroughs books to her as a child. Later Ms. Williams received a bachelor's degree from Elmira College in Elmira, New York, although she studied at the London School of Economics during her junior year. She received her Master's from Washington University in St. Louis. She is married to David Bruce and has two daughters.

She became interested in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (as it was then titled) while studying philosophy at Washington University. In 1982 she was hired at the magazine, and worked with Isaac Asimov for ten years. While working there, she co-founded the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing (at one time called the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing). In 2004, with the retirement of Gardner Dozois, she became the editor of the magazine.

Along with Gardner Dozois she also edited the "Isaac Asimov's" anthology series. She also co-edited A Woman's Liberation: A Choice of Futures by and About Women (2001) with Connie Willis. Most recently she has edited a retrospective anthology of fiction published by Asimov's: Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine: 30th Anniversary Anthology. Booklist called the book "A gem, and a credit to editor Williams."
She has been nominated for 4 Hugo Awards as editor of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.

See also Sheila Williams's entry in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

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Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,574 reviews8,226 followers
November 30, 2022
'The Girl Who Stole Herself' by R. Garcia y Robertson
One of the only things I read that feels like a video game... in a good, feminist, fun way. Yeah, unusual.

"How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry" by Alexander Jablokov
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,682 reviews347 followers
December 25, 2022
My review is solely for two stories on the 32nd annual Asimov’s Readers’ Awards ballot. Both are first-rate:

"The Girl Who Stole Herself" by R. Garcia y Robertson. This is a very high-energy story involving the Crown Princess of Callisto, crooked cops, Space Vikings!, pirates, Mongol warriors and more! After a head-snapping series of plot twists, a bunch of teenage girls take over the battle cruiser!
It's pretty confusing, but fun, and I recommend it. 4 stars.

"How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry" by Alexander Jablokov
The real star in this story is Tempest, the city of storms, a city rich and strange, with a long, long history of alien habitation, including Oms, the humans. Sere is a PI, down on her luck, working on a low-paying job for Mirquell, a speculator who's also in a bad patch.

It's best to just let the exotic strangeness of Tempest wash over you, I think. This was the part that I really, really liked. The mystery element is secondary, in my view. 4 stars, recommended reading.

And Jablokov plans more stories set here, with his new PI! I'm looking forward to the next.

The entire Asimov's ballot is here,
Sadly, both of these, and a couple of others I spot-checked, are no longer online. Checked for online reprints, 12/25/22. No joy.
Profile Image for Standback.
156 reviews40 followers
December 28, 2017
Unfortunately, an extremely poor issue.

There's one standout story, which I really enjoyed: "Other Worlds and This One," by Cadwell Turnbull. The narrator journeys through time and alternate realities, and the story is simply rich with voice, character and emotion. The story follows along, in parallel, with two very different characters, and the entire thing works marvelously well. Recommended.


"Anabelle, Annie," by Lisa Goldstein, makes an interesting use of subverting expectations. What starts out feeling like a "Those Damn Rebellious Teens" story winds up criticizing the inclination to dismiss unpleasant truths. It's hard for me to feel this story is very satisfying; it's much more focused on the necessity of leaving the "wrong" side, then it is of claiming much any hope for the "right" one. On the other hand, it does acknowledge this, and the teens are right: ignoring a problem because there's no "happy" solution only makes everything worse.

"Gale Strang" is a character portrait of a young runaway, who . Engaging and quiet. Employs the rather odd device of a sentient bird cage as narrator, and then doesn't actually do very much with it.


As for the others, alas. Some I merely didn't enjoy; others were outright grating.

"How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry," by Alexander Jablokov:
This is that unfortunate kind of mystery story where the mystery is finding out what the mystery is.
"Something mysterious is going on" is our lede. And then the story just felt to me like a sequence of "Hey, what's going on," met by "I'm not telling, maybe go ask ." It feels to me like very poor mystery construction; the author putting all the story's weight on, essentially, "I've got a secret," without giving me any reason to care about what that secret might be.
I DNF'd about a third of the way through, still with no reason to care about who's up on that bluff or why. I noped out at a scene where the investigator, Sere, is being a callous ass. This portrayal is deliberate, but I don't see what it's meant to be doing -- it's a thoroughly unsympathetic portrayal, leaving me less invested in an already-thin protagonist, nor does it seem to be building up to any particular consequences or story goals. I assume this is likely to be developed somehow later in the story - but I have no idea how, and I didn't stick around to find out. In this way as well, I feel like the story is banking on me being willing to read it through, instead of earning my trust and interest.

"The Patient Dragon," by David Gerrold:
An SF thriller. Sets up a pretty cool opening premise -- the protagonist's is attacked, and her "dragon," a military AI-grade companion, is destroyed, begging a slew of questions: Why? Was she the target, or the dragon itself? Who stands to gain?
The rest of the story doesn't really manage to live up to the set-up, though. Instead of following up on the story's questions, we meander into a "something is happening but we don't know what" situation; the story is engaging enough, but narratively it's treading water, waiting for the other shoe to drop. And the conclusion winds up sudden, rushed, and confusing.

"Field Studies," by Sheila Finch:
A homeless woman is approached by a mysterious, well-meaning individual, calling himself an anthropologist. It's a brief and well-executed. It didn't particularly grab me; it's mostly a portrait of poverty which feels very, very familiar.

"@lantis," by Rudy Rucker and Marc Laidlaw: A stoner adventure with Zep and Del, where everything is gonzo and wacky and insufferable. In the first couple of pages alone, Zep is transformed into a crab and there is "magic foam" involved and somehow nobody has any sense of where or when anything is occurring. I skimmed ahead a bit, and didn't continue.

"An Evening with Severyn Grimes," by Rich Larson (Asimov’s):
A caper story, about renting or buying other people's bodies for personal use. Fun and peppy. Ends on kind of a weird note -- sympathetic to somebody that doesn’t seem to merit it at all.

"The Girl Who Stole Herself," by R. Garcia y Robertson:
Its breakneck pace is tense and exciting at the beginning. But the more octane Robertson pours in, the less coherent and interesting the story becomes. The protagonist being a secret confidante of a virtual monarch, now the target of some vicious slave traders — pretty darn awesome. But then she becomes a space viking! and explosions! and stuff!
It’s a flurry; it tries to maintain the pace by constantly adding *new* elements instead of bringing together strands that have already been established. And with each new element I care less and less. :-/ If the story had ended with her escape, and the rest had been left for a new piece, I feel like it would have worked much much better.

"Transcendental Mission: Riley's Story," by James Gunn, and
"Weighty Matters: Tordor's Story," by James Gunn:
I wasn't enthralled by Gunn's "Escape of the Adastra" last issue; this issue gives me two more teasers for Gunn's new novel.
"Riley's Story" is hardly a story. Riley is literally in the dark the entire story, until at the end, he's offered a mission he can't refuse -- to tag along with a mysterious pilgrimage and a mysterious prophet, presumably in Gunn's new book. That's it.
I didn't bother continuing to Tordor's story. Somehow, next issue is going to have two more of these. Why? WHY?


This is the third issue in my subscription, and it's a very dispiriting one. I'm getting the strong impression this magazine isn't for me.
Profile Image for Michael Frasca.
289 reviews3 followers
July 2, 2017
My favorite story:

"How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry" by Alexander Jablokov. Imagine a sort-of-Mos Eisley set on a kind-of-Discworld. Add in search for lost laundry and a non-human Quint. What's there not to like?
Profile Image for DoodleBug.
316 reviews
December 1, 2017
Completely unimpressed with the thinly disguised identity politics and progressive pablum contained in this issue. I'm seriously considering cancelling my subscription to Asimov's. It's a shame that a high-quality magazine has been reduced to publishing utter rubbish.

There were a couple of...not bright spots, just less dim ones.

"The Patient Dragon" by David Gerrold was a decently told story, as was "Other Worlds and This one" by Cadwell Turnbull. Definitely the highlights of this issue.

"The Girl Who Stole Herself" by R. Garcia y Roberston had potential, but was horribly written and filled with shallow characters, and even more shallow insight. Here's a clue for the clueless: stealing is theft regardless of whether there's a law against it or not. Duh. Laws have nothing to do with inherent rights, a fact those on the left still haven't learned.

The rest? Meh. Pretty much crap.

"Field Studies" by Sheila Finch didn't belong in the magazine, period, unless you count a vague and untethered reference to angels, which wasn't supported by the prose.

"Gale Strang" by Michael Bishop had potential, but the story derailed in favor of a preachy rant on gender identity, replete with stereotypes and holier-than-thou karma.

"Annabell, Annie" by Lisa Goldstein featured a spineless protagonist and enough disinformation to shame the author.

I skipped James Gunn's stories (as they were part of a series with which I was unfamiliar) and stopped reading "@Lantis" by Rudy Rucker & Marc Laidlow because it was just downright dumb. If I read "How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry" by Alexander Jablokov and "An Evening with Severyn Grimes" by Rich Larson, I don't remember, which probably isn't saying anything good.

That it took me three full months to finish reading a single issue of a magazine probably doesn't speak well of it either.
Profile Image for Denise Barney.
334 reviews8 followers
September 27, 2017
Another stellar issue...

Robert Silverberg's column, "Reflections," looks back at "shared world" stories from the 1920's and 1930's--and I wish I could find them! Jim Kelly's column, "On the Net," looks at the history of mobile phones and how reality has caught up with science fiction (I had a Handspring Visor PDA, an early Nokia, and my first smartphone was a Palm Centro).

I really enjoyed the two stories by James Gunn, "Transcendental Mission: Riley's Story" and "Weighty Matters: Tordor's Story." Set in the same universe, these two stories are the set up of two characters who will be going on the same mission, but for different reasons. "@Lantis" continues the adventures of Delbert and Zep, kind of a hippy, surfing, futuristic "Bill and Ted." They always have interesting adventures, but you kind of have to just go with the story. And "The Girl Who Stole Herself" showcases a teenage girl who, with a little help from her Family, manages to outwit a Gang who wants to abduct her.

I'm enjoying this new expanded format, which allows for longer stories and also more variety. So far, it's been a good 40th Anniversary!
Profile Image for Benn Allen.
202 reviews1 follower
September 19, 2017
If it wasn't for David Gerrold's excellent "{The Patient Dragon", Rich Larson's "An Evening With Severyn Grimes" and James Gunn's two entries (though both read as if they were excerpts from a novel, chapters or partial chapters introducing a couple of characters), this issue would have been a complete waste of time. There were two or three stories ("How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry", "@lantis" and "The Girl Who Stole Herself") that I came very close to not even bothering to finish reading. I either found the tales boring or annoying. A couple of stories barely qualify as science fiction. "@lantis" and "Gale Strang" felt more like works of fantasy given how shake the science in each story were. And Michael Bishop's "Gale Strang" wouldn't have been that bad a story if wasn't for the silly (and I thought utterly unnecessary) conceit of a bird cage gaining sentience.

Overall, I wasn't really impressed with this issue of "Asimov's". Maybe the next time I read an issue, it'll be better than this one was. One can only hope.
Profile Image for Ken Richards.
730 reviews3 followers
March 17, 2018
I read and enjoyed Alexander Jablokov's excellent and well built novella, 'How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry', as part of my reading for Hugo Award 2018 nominations. The story of private investigator Sere Glagolit's troubled quest to make a living in the multispecies meltingpot which is Tempest, City of Storms involves secret pathways and tunnels, toxic laundry, exploding exterminators and improntu hang-gliding, to name just a few of the escapades!

the story made it on to my long list for nomination, but it did not quite make the cut.
Profile Image for Username.
164 reviews15 followers
June 28, 2020
I'm reading this for the story "The Girl Who Stole Herself" by R. Garcia y Robertson. It is hard to understand, and not in a very good-rewarding way. And I had to start with this story if I wanted to understand the sequel in the May/June 2020 issue. I'm getting to the conclusion it's not worth the effort.
Sometimes I'm self-conscious of writing reviews on the internet because the authors may read them... does this happen to someone else?
105 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2019
I’m reluctant to rate it only 1-star, because I liked Gerrold’s “The Patient Dragon”, Jablokov’s “How Sere Picked up Her Laundry” was interesting, and R. Garcia y Robertson’s “The Girl who stole herself” was a great start which didn’t quite seal the deal but was fun nonetheless. Unfortunately, the rest of the issue was pretty poor, with several stories I didn’t finish — rare for me.
Profile Image for Elaysee.
270 reviews2 followers
September 17, 2017
My favorite piece was Rich Larson's short story "An Evening with Severyn Grimes," an unusual depiction of uploading consciousness into other bodies. I also enjoyed Alexander Jablokov's novella "How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry," and will be glad to read future plans for this character and world.
Profile Image for David H..
2,066 reviews19 followers
September 12, 2021
Retroactive Review (12 Sep 2021): "How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry" by Alexander Jablokov is my recommended story here--just a great setting, almost Mieville- or VanderMeer-like in that respect. It's a mystery set in a alien cosmopolitan city where humans are just one of many. I'd like to see a full novel with Sere.
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews

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