Asimov's Science Fiction, January 2006
Too much fantasy in this issue for my taste. Still, the three novelettes were good. I am confused as to why The Last McDougal's is not The Last McDonald's. The story is unfailingly positive about the restaurant. There may be some legal trademarks issues with putting McDonald's in the title of the story, but surely it could have been retitled.
- Novelette: In the Space of Nine Lives, by R. R. Angell - Tom is the only boy growing up in an interstellar starship. He is being raised to take on the job of ship's pilot, but he rebels against what he feels is a life chosen for him without his consent.
- Novelette: World Without End, Amen, by Allen M. Steele - "The last pessimist," a man who helped create the world's benevolent AI overlord, contemplates suicide as the only way to escape life in a world where he can never, ever get out of the AI's sphere of knowledge and protection.
- Novelette: Ghost Wars, by Stephen Baxter - Mankind fights a brutal centuries-long war against the alien Ghosts; now a ghost shows up and asks for human help to assassinate the Ghosts' own greatest general: the Black Ghost.
- An Episode of Stardust, by Michael Swanwick - A donkey-eared fey, captured and on its way to prison for stealing some jewels (I think) manages to trick his captors and escape. A fantasy story, of course.
- World of No Return, by Carol Emshwiller - Norman North is not human. His kind came to Earth as tourists and were stranded. Now he wanders the world, passing as human, while waiting for eventual rescue.
- The Last McDougal's, by Devid D. Levine - Mad cow disease and changing human whims make fast food a thing of the past. Only one McDougal's (that is, McDonald's) remains open.
- Storm Poet, by Kim Antieau - A family farm in need of rain, and their drunken uncle Andy can reportedly whip up a rainstorm as if by magic. But his magic seems to be failing him.