Thursday, March 18, 2010

Analog Science Fiction and Fact July-August 1997

Pretty good stories overall, clearly above average issue.

Sam Boone's Dry Run • novelette by Bud Sparhawk
Sam Boone has to travel to a new planet to intermediate an argument between two races. Even the travel is something less than comfortable, and when he gets where he was going, he finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery. Fairly ok story, perhaps a bit overlong and disjointed story, and it wasn't so funny at all places. ***-
The Space Program • shortstory by Jerry Oltion”Wish-fulfillment fantasy”, where political decisions are made using a sophisticated software which is capable of making extremely long term predictions. And everything is wonderful; space is conquered and so on. ***
Billy's Bunter • novella by Walter F. Cuirle
US is apparently ruled by religious fundamentalists and even in private schools a new generation of teachers is downplaying independent thought as ”disruptive” behavior. A son of AI designer is getting notices from school for such behavior. He is designing a ”butler” AI, which is supposed to function as a help in everyday life.
The story is well written, but at places it seems to be more a description of the world, not a real story with a plot. There isn’t enough plot for such a long novella, and especially in the end there are a bit too much ranting about the value of independent though and creativity. I am all for those things, but ranting about anything isn't good for a story. ***½
Already in Heaven • shortstory by Brian Plante
A personality upload from a late priest takes confessionals on a church. One day an arsonists gives his confession. There is no way the AI priest can contact anyone as that would be a breach of confession – and also impossible by his programming. Good, maybe a bit too short story, but it is the winner of Anlab in short story category for 1997. ****-
Safari • novelette by Rick Shelly
A new species of mouse is found on a derelict housing area. A scientist tries to capture a few specimens, but that isn't so easy. Pretty good story, especially the first part. There were some hints in the story which weren't followed – or maybe I read too much into it. I wonder if the author has/had some plans to follow up this one. ****-
Payoff • shortstory by David J. Strumfels
Cold fusion using Martian crystals, and a boy meets an old flame and wants to rekindle it. Very much “meh”, too short and too much like an outline. ***-
Clamoring Voices • shortstory by Robert R. Chase
A man has lost his memory, and starts slowly to recover it. And then the story takes some very strange, hard believe and hard to understand turns. Extremely literal deus ex machina ending – up to thunder bolts (!) which comes from nowhere. **-
Starsong • novella by Timothy Zahn
A cargo ship is drafted by a powerful woman to find a legendary generation ship, which has been presumed lost. The spaceships are powered by music – or some sort of very little knows animals which are living in hyperspace, and who just happen to really love all kinds of music. Very good story, and very well written. Perhaps the characters were bit too black and white, but this was easily the best story in magazine (and it also was the winner of Anlab for best novella in 1997). ****

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