Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Analog Science Fiction and Fact October 2009

Very good issue, best in long time.

Where The Winds Are All Asleep • novella by Michael F. Flynn
An expedition is travelling to the heart of a dormant volcano trying to find evidence for a theory that life has begun more than once on earth. Inside the volcano they find more than they were expecting. Very good, exiting story. The only weaker point was the framing story. I found it a bit superfluous, and especially the first part was a bit too long. ****+
Teddy Bear Toys • shortstory by Carl Frederick
A student has been training a computer model of himself, which is able to make up stories where he himself is a protagonist. The stories are starting to be pretty realistic. Nice story, the ending is probably the weakest part. It is recursive, and it is the point, but it also doesn't come to satisfying conclusion. ***½
The Hanged Man • shortstory by William Gleason
A horror story happening in a kind of 50s science fiction world. Travel between different solar systems is trivial, there are a lot of unexplored planets with strange life and so on. The world itself, and even writing reminds me a bit of Robert Sheckley's short stories. However, this isn't a funny story, but rather quite creeping horror story. The beginning and the end wont fit together as well they could (office is inside a tank?), but otherwise good, entertaining piece. ****
Shallow Copy • novelette by Jesse L. Watson
Two smart kids design a self-aware AI before they really consider the ethical and practical considerations at all. Very good story, could have been longer and more detailed. ****+
An Idea Whose Time Has Come • novelette by Robert Grossbach
This might happen in same world that the above story, just a few decades later. USA has gone practically bankrupt. Everything is bad, and going to the wrong direction. President elections are coming, and an AI as a president might be just what the country needs. The start of the story is very good, and gave high expectations. It is a pity that the story turns to a parody of computer software in the middle. I felt that the tone shifted too much, and from mid-point onward the story felt pretty juvenile. ***
Cold Words • novelette by Juliette Wade
A story which is told from a viewpoint of an alien. Humans are trying to establish a space port on a planet, but the cultural barriers between them and the original inhabitants are harming understanding. Well written but almost from too alien point of view. I had some trouble following what was going on in, especiallyin the first part of story, as there was hardly any establishing back-story and it took some time to get the mindset of the alien. ***+
In The Autumn Of The Empire • shortstory by Jerry Oltion
Absolute emperor of earth has some strange fixations about astronomy...Probability Zero story in all but length. Nothing special, not among the best stories by Oltion. ***-

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