This issue contains a reprint of Isaac Asimov’s classic “Nightfall” (p. 88). About how a civilisation awaits the coming of the fabled “Stars”, and the ending provides the answer to why their many civilisations seem to perish in fire in seemingly fixed cycles.

P. 4. Sheila Williams’ editorial talks about trends in SF. She observed two (of many) that seem to oppose each other: “Space Opera” (coined by Wilson Tucker, 1941) and “Mundane SF” (Geoff Ryman).

For the former (usually meaning large scale SF), she mentions Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Straham’s original anthology “The New Space Opera”; also Tony Daniel, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Allen M. Steele, R. Garcia y Robertson, and Charles Stross.

The latter (i.e. SF that is limited to what science is capable of achieving by today’s standards, rather than speculative) includes Jack Dann’s “Cafe Culture”, Nancy Kress’ “Safeguard”, A.R. Morlan’s “The Hikikimori’s Cartoon Kimono”, Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Yellow Card Man”. Also mentions

p. 8. Robert Silverberg writes about rereading Theodore Sturgeon’s “More Than Human” (1953). Compliments the “dazzling imagery” but also points out parts where Sturgeon’s writing shows some carryover from his “pulp magazine past” (e.g. cheesy writing and implausible gimmicks). But concludes that while “More Than Human” is still a mighty step forward from its time.

p. 16. James Patrick Kelly writes about the trend of SF writers publishing and making their works (or part of) free on the Internet. Starts by citing Howard Hendrix’s commentary about “Pixel-stained technopeasants” (which Kelly uses as the title of his column); Kelly cites some responses to Hendrix’s rant from the blogosphere, and also the aftermath. He suggests there’s no way to stop the practice and it is a good way to promote a writer’s career by giving away content for free — for now. Cites Cory Doctorow’s “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom”, Charles Stross’ “Accelerando” and Peter Watts’ Blindsight as Creative Commons text. Kelly suggests this marketing tactic works for now because relatively few writers are doing so. Implies that things may change later.

Also cites Scott Sigler‘s podcast novels; that have been turned into a multi-book contract and movie deal.

But concludes that publishing and making one’s works for free has more benefits than losses. Cites his own example where his novella (available in print) was also freely made available online. Which was nominated for a Hugo. Kelly credits the free online publication as creating more awareness than his small print run ever could.

p. 182. Part 1 of 4, “Galaxy Blues” – by Allen M. Steele, set in his “Coyote” series.

p. 226. Norman Spinrad, “On Books”, talking about SF publishing that is cross-genre. He gave good reviews to Martin Millar’s “The Good Faries of New York”, Liz Williams’ “The Demon and the City”, Charlie Huston’s “No Dominion”, Carol Emshwiller’s “The Secret City”, and (highly commends) Alan Dean Foster’s “Sagramanda” (lead-in to the review was about the automated purchasing system by US book retailers, where an automated system will track the last sales volume of an author and adjust the ordering volume up or down in accordance to the last sales trend).