Saturday, November 22, 2008

Analog Science Fiction and Fact January/February 2009

Haven’t stated on Wake yet. Pretty good issues, the both novellas were fine, some of the shorter fiction weren’t among the best published.

Doctor Alien • novella by Rajnar Vajra
Aliens invite a psychiatrist from earth to find out what is wrong with three very strange and strangely behaving aliens from previously unknown species, which all were rescued after an apparent accident in space.
Very nice story. For some reason I haven’t usually been very keen on Rajnar Vajra’s stories, but this is a fine one. Well written, interesting premise in manner of James White. ****
Zheng He and the Dragon • novelette by Dave Creek
Chinese general on exploratory journey meets a real dragon, who hatches from large egg falling from sky. He doesn’t look just like a dragon, and he claims that he isn’t one, but what else could fly from the skies? A bit too long story, not enough to support the fairly thin storyline. ***½
To Leap the Highest Wall • novelette by Richard Foss
Alternative history. Apollo project did get delayed by a year or two, and the Russians are getting ready to land to the moon first. But just as their ship is passing to the far side of moon, they send a distress call to Americans.
Far too much discussion about cold war - as we know how it ended. The ending of the story is sickeningly patriotic. In my opinion, by the way, patriotism is the root of all evil. This could have been a fine story if published in 1967, but not now. **½
Rocks • shortstory by John G. Hemry
Mainly just a history of weapons development, starting with throwing rocks - ending with throwing rocks from orbit. Contains one whoopingly stupid mistake: you just can’t “drop” warheads from an orbiting space ship - there must be acceleration to stop orbital velocity. Writing ok, not much plot, error leaves bad taste. **-
Small Business • novelette by Edward M. Lerner
A small band of insurgents use high-tech micro machines to beat evil EU’s monopoly of making very efficient spaceship hulls which are driving independent spaceship operators to bust. A bit disturbing in a way: Evil EU, copyright theft glorified…Writing ok, pretty exiting, might have been a few pages longer - seemed a bit like an overview for a longer story. ***+
Excellence • shortstory by Richard A. Lovett
An athletic getting past his prime gets an offer too good to decline: modified muscles, years shaved of from performance - with no chance of getting caught in doping tests. There is just a small catch, after a few years muscles run out, and even walking might be too much for rest of his life. As a true sportsman he naturally takes that offer. Well told, nice, entertaining story. ****-
The Recovery Man's Bargain • novella by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A recovery man (someone who recovers lost items) fails in important recovery, and is forced to recover (or in practice, kidnap) a woman who is wanted by an alien species for an alleged mass murder. That’s kind of work he _really_ doesn’t want to do, but due to circumstances he doesn’t have any choice. Of course, everything doesn’t go as planned. Very good, well written story. None of the characters were too sympathetic - in fact most of them were anything but sympathetic, but the writing managed to pull that out, and the story was enjoyable. I kept expecting for that just too familiar ”surprising” reveal that someone have been just faking being obnoxious, but that never came. The end part is a bit rushed and a few plot points were left a bit open. I also got an impression that at least some of the characters have been introduced earlier, but that didn’t harm the story too much. ****½

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