Saturday, January 17, 2009

Analog Science Fiction and Fact - January - February 2008

A fairly good issue. A few pretty good stories, only a couple which aren’t up to the standards. Haven’t started on the serial by Joe Haldeman yet.

The Man in the Mirror • novelette by Geoffrey A. Landis
A “problem solving” story. The point of the story is how to escape from a perfect, practically frictionless parabolic “hole” in a asteroid. Not much characterization or any other kind of literary nonsense - but that is not needed, as that isn’t the point of this type of storytelling. Pretty good as such, interesting and entertaining. ****
A New Generation • shortstory by Jerry Oltion
A life form which uses genetic memory gives human explorers more than they were bargaining for. A very nice story, interesting. Well written, interesting how the conception of the alien changes during the story - at the beginning it feels like just a mindless animal and in the end it seems to be practically super intelligent. ****
Low Life • shortstory by Mia Molvray
A plumber has some trouble when trying to eradicate all of the e coli bacteria from the human waste on a research station. Well and interestingly told, but not too surprising ending - it was something I was expecting from about the second page. Pretty unlikely explanation why the alien bacteria was registering as a coliform bacteria - DNA resemblance by change alone is practically impossible. ****-
Tangible Light • novelette by J. Timothy Bagwell
A rich man leaves as inheritance for his son a journey to the alien university/archive where records of everything are kept - but not anything else. He goes there a bit baffled and finds that literally everything is tracked. It also seems that aliens and humans have common ancestry, and have similar genome. And there have been so many generations of so many aliens, that all genetic codes have existed at some time, usually several times, and there are several “identical twins“ for everyone, who have lived earlier in different circumstances. While studying in the university he also finds out that humanity’s future doesn’t seem to be too good. And soon after that the story ends pretty strangely, without any real closure. Pretty fragmented story, there are many ideas, but they don’t form any complete story as the many different story details don‘t seem to have anything to do with each other even in the end. Also, the premise that genetic code might repeat itself dozens of times is totally ridiculous, it just shows that the writer doesn’t have a slightest grasp of genetics. **½
The Natural World • novelette by Don D'Ammassa
A 19th century lady and her sister ( with irritating young man tagging on) find a nest of very strange beetles. One of them bites the man, who starts to act strangely during the next few months. Pretty nice, “Jane Austen” style SF-story, a bit on the short side, there would have been material for more. ****-
The Engulfed Cathedral • shortstory by Carl Frederick
A couple takes part on ecumenical service in a submerged church. Genetic modification is pretty commonplace, there are intelligent dolphins, and a significant portion of humans are gene modified in one way or another. During the service a fanatic tries to explode a bomb. A lot of discussion, pretty strange ideas, not very logical story, and it is not too well written - not at least to my taste. A lot of explaining of different things is going on. In the end the main character is revealed to be a human chauvinist Christian who believes to souls, and who thinks that the intelligent dolphins aren’t really worth much, as they don’t have souls, as only humans can have souls. As the end “twist” he is ready to reconsider - which is a pretty strange revelation, as in the beginning of the story he seems to be something else than a religious nut, so that even the fact that he seriously believes to souls is a surprise in itself. **
A Deadly Intent • shortstory by Richard A. Lovett and Mark Niemann-Ross
A naked, frozen woman who’s skin is warm to touch is found in front of her tent on an Antarctic expedition, which is testing new, nanotechnology based equipment for low temperatures. Pretty interesting story. ****
The Purloined Labradoodle • novelette by Barry B. Longyear
Continues a series. I haven’t read any of the previous installments, and it is kind of hard to get into story. There are hardly any explanations of what the background is. Apparently it is possible and common to load consciousnesses to human or animal android bodies. A pair of detectives are playing Sherlock Holmes and Watson. They are solving a jewel theft with A LOT OF idle chatter about old movies, theatrical plays and so on. Story movies a bit slowly, and there doesn’t seem to be much of real content. I didn’t like too much - probably the main reason being that the background wasn’t familiar.. **½
Conversations With My Knees • novelette by Ron Goulart
When a elderly man is recovering from a knee operation, his knees start to talk with him. It turns out that the knees are new experimental model with AI, meant for military/espionage use. Light, fast moving (even a bit too fast moving) entertaining story. Not very plausible - but it is not meant to be. ****-
How the Bald Apes Saved Mass Crossing • shortstory by Will McCarthy
The long history of Salamander People of Antares IV, their two all knowing computers and Bald Ape People from Sol III. Light, entertaining story, maybe too much in Douglas Adams - style. ***½

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