Sunday, July 15, 2012

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July-August 2006

A large double issue. A varied bunch of stories, some good, some less so.

Witherspin • novelette by Alexis Glynn Latner
A man and woman are on a leisure space station. The man is some sort of superhuman modified for military purposes who has run away from his creators, the woman with for some reason. For some reason they are attacked (or they at least assume so) and they try to escape through different zones of the station. For some reason Coriolis Effect affects them a lot, even though the habitat must be gigantic, miles in diameter, to include all the zones which are described, so I can’t believe that it would be that great. Naturally the couple falls in love and most of the story is spent in describing that love story. And for some reason the story ends without real resolution to the main story. The story felt like an excerpt from a novel, but it isn’t branded as such – it started from the middle and ends in the middle, and writing at places is like something from a romantic novel. I really didn’t like it all. **
Total Loss • shortstory by James Hosek
A man who has been in a car accident is declared to be “a total loss” by his insurance company. So it isn’t worth to continue his treatment and any body parts which are salvageable can be used for organ transplants. An ironic “if this goes too far” style of story, not bad. ***½
The Keeper's Maze • novelette by Joe Schembrie
A freelance spaceship crew gets a mission: they have to retrieve a genemodified unicorn from an abandoned research facility. There is a reason it was abandoned though, and none of earlier attempts have been successful. An entertaining story, but nothing ground shaking. ***
Kremer's Limit • [The Black Hole Project] • novella by C. Sanford Lowe and G. David Nordley
A story about a gigantic project to create an artificial black hole. The project spans for years and years, and there is a lot of opposition to it, and all opposing factions won’t play nice. A somewhat overlong and fragmentary story with a too large cast of characters. **+
The Software Soul • shortstory by Brian Plante
A robot priest continues its’ virtual services even though there are no real people taking part any more. Eventually, it turns out that humans have been exterminated by aliens who are politely apologetic of it all. A nice little tale which leaves a lot open. ***½
Willies • shortstory by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
A psychiatrist is treating a binge eater (who apparently is allowed to call doctor at will, even at weekends! Probably not the best treatment strategy for someone with issues on control). There are some novel treatment strategies, though. A simple, but well written story. ***+
The Teller of Time • shortstory by Carl Frederick
A scientist has returned to his home village to test his hypothesis involving church bells ring in perfect harmony. It should cause a sort of time slippage effect. He meets a childhood sweetheart who has married another guy, their common friend. As young the scientist had never courage to ask her out. They wonder how things might have gone. After that the ending is fairly obvious. ***+
Environmental Friendship Fossle • novelette by Ian Stewart
An undercover inspector who tracks downs the trade of illegal animal parts finds a mammoth tusk from one old man who used to ramble about hunting mammoths. The trade with fossil animal parts is legal but this tusk seems to be fresh. The secret I is what you are expecting, but it certainly takes time for the protagonist to get there. And then the ending of the story just leaves hanging. ***-
String of Pearls • novelette by Shane Tourtellotte
A man works for aliens on an alien planet. The alien's language is very hard and they haven't been very helpful in teaching it. A secondary (or in reality the primary) goal for the man is to learn the real grammar of the language. The aliens have a scrabble-like game they use to play. The man uses that to learn the language and challenges the father and daughter of the family he lives in. A pretty good and well written story. There are problems, though. The protagonist pouts like a five year old when he loses in the game, feels like an irritating brat, and it is totally, completely unbelievable when he finally wins. In language he just has really learnt he is supposed to beat someone who has played the game for years in his native language. No way, never, ever. (said by someone who can understand a foreign language practically completely, is able to write it at least in some manner and has tried a few language games). ****-

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