Saturday, January 9, 2010

Analog Science Fiction and Fact March 2010

Writing is pretty good in the most stories in this issue, but several of the stories have severe problems in logic.
(Paint by mouse to see some spoilers)

Of One Mind • novella by Shane Tourtellotte
It is possible to reprogram someone's mind using a template which is recorded from a ”better” mind. The method has been used first for terrorists, later against dissidents, and slowly politicians are going to use it against anyone, who just disagrees with the leaders. One of the developers of the technology has to take part to the “treatments” more or less against her will. She tries covertly to make the adjustments a bit too blatant, and finally succeeds. But the new leaders might not be much better... Good story, best in series (at least of those I have read.). It is just a bit hard to adjust to the story where democrats are the bad guys, and republicans are the bastions of civil rights and freedom, at least considering what the latest republican president did to those values (water boarding and so on...) ****-
The Hub of the Matter • novelette by Christopher L. Bennett
A naive human comes to interstellar relay-point and plans to solve a problem which no one in the galaxy has been able to solve: To figure out the hub used for interstellar travel works? So far it has been possible to find worthwhile locations only by trial and error. The hub is poorly understood natural phenomena, and entering into it takes you to a random destination. Changing the speed and vector when entering to the hub, causes totally unpredictable change to your destination. But could young man solve the problem which has been unsolvable by all the scientists in the galaxy? Pretty good story, but the characterization of the most characters, especially the alien ones, was pretty simple and routine. The story could have been a bit longer. ***½
Dr. Skenner's Special Animals • shortstory by David A. Simons
A veterinarian treats “special” animals, which are results of genetic modification. It is apparently a fad among the rich people to own animals modeled to animals from the legends. Usually the results are less than perfect, and the animals end up as rejects. The vet has ended up with a quite a collection of them, and he has to fear federal inspectors as it strictly forbidden to raise such animals, and they would be killed if found. Not too good, I didn't really like the writing, and it is hard to understand the motivations of the veterinarian. If such animals really were in existence, and they were like described in the story, it certainly would be by far most humane to painlessly kill most of them. **
Encounter in a Yellow Wood • shortstory by Bud Sparhawk
A giant landfill from the 20th century has been forested. There are plans to mine the location for raw materials, but local inhabitants have used to the nice forest area and are using it for recreational purposes. That causes some friction between the characters. Fairly stupid story. A Canadian small town in middle of nowhere (“no any city worth the name within 800 km”), and the only nice forest area for recreation is the one over a former dump? Shouldn't there be more than enough forest everywhere? The romance subplot didn't work for me, either. **
Locked In • shortstory by Brad Aiken
The wealthy businessman gets a stroke, and finds himself in locked-in condition. He gets a wheelchair and a communication system which are controlled by a direct brain interface. It turns out to be very easily hackable, but someone with a direct computer access has some countermeasures..Fairly simple story. Somehow I suspect that hacking into a that kind of computer would be a bit harder. ***-
Narrow World • novelette by Carl Frederick
A juvenile, who is in a prison work gang for a minor drug offense, escapes and starts to walk along a highway center strip to Canada, his home. At the same time, some young boys decide to for a hike to the same strip. Unusual breeds of cats and rats have developed in the isolated area. It turns out that a strange disease has developed on that ecosystem, and rats are apparently carrying it, and a bite from (intelligent?) cat prevents it. The writing is fairly nice, but the story depends on several coincidences, extremely illogical actions of several characters (it certainly is smart to run from prison if you are serving only three month sentence, and try to run across border on foot, the traffic is so heavy on the highway, that it is impossible to cross even in nighttime, and at the same time no-one traveling in those thousands of cars bothers to call police if they see a suspicious character walking on the middle strip of highway in middle of nowhere) , and major illogicalities (yeah, it IS possible to diagnose a new disease, find out what is causing it, evaluate its vectors, decide what to do, and start sterilizing the middle strip of a highway hundreds of miles long in about a day, and a bite from a wonder cat makes you instantly immune for that disease) in plot. *+

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