Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1951

Only three longish stories + a serial. A pretty mediocre issue.

Hunt the Hunter • shortstory by Kris Neville

A ruthless rich hunter travels to on alien planet to hunt a legendary and dangerous beast. The planet is on the territory of hostile aliens, but the hunter doesn't let that stop him. He is even ready to use one of his aides as bait. But there are baits and there are baits... A nice old fashionable entertaining story with a slightly open ending. ***
Angel's Egg • novelette by Edgar Pangborn
A secret diary of a man who adopts "an angel", which is a member of an incredibly advanced race. The race is also so ethical that it used million year pondering if it is ethical to travel in space. It looks like a small naked fairy. It is able to record and absorb a personality of another being. A badly overlong and boring story where little happens. Writing was adequate. **+
Don't Live in the Past • novelette by Damon Knight
There has been an accident: several items have fallen in the past. A man is sent to make sure they won't cause any harm. He observes when first items appear at inappropriate moment. Eventually he gets stranded in the past and finds that things he has learned about history aren't as accurate as he thought, and that his future isn't such a utopia he had thought. He eventually ends up just where it was certain to end from the beginning. About in the first page he is said to resemble the revered "father" of the future world who naturally turns out to be a mad dictator. All problems the stranded visitor from the past faces are solved by an almost literal deus ex machine style of plot device: just right things fall from the future at just right times. A pretty bad story. **

Monday, September 17, 2012

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2012

At most an average issue. Several stories without a real plot – just a single problem which is solved.

Seagulls, Jack-O-Lanterns, and Interstitial Spaces • novelette by Gray Rinehart
A Halloween themed story. First, a low-level employee on a space ship makes a small Halloween prank which slightly backfires, then they must solve a problem with their ship. A pretty mundane story which isn’t too interesting. **
Strobe Effect • novelette by Alastair Mayer and Brad R. Torgersen
A story of how a couple of scientists make an unusual observation and finally develop a groundbreaking invention. A little boring story where there was no real conflict. ***-
The Information in a Dream • novelette by Sarah K. Castle
A woman who takes care of dogs, which are used as a part of some sort of quantum artificial intelligence computer is faced a hard choice: she must ”volunteer" as an interface for the computer or be fired. She is tied up with taking care of her father who is suffering severe Parkinson's. An excellent, well written story. The background was somewhat flimsy, but that didn't hurt too much. The best story in the issue. ***½
Pictures at an Exhibition • shortstory by Robert R. Chase
A picture exhibition involving a Big Foot, in more than one way. A short and simple story, writing was ok. ***½
Tech Support • shortstory by Richard A. Lovett
Phone-lines get slightly crossed and someone trying to call tech support gets Alexander Bell on the phone line. They discuss some future developments when the caller finally figures out who he is talking with. Writing was ok, but there really wasn't much of the plot. The story was more like an anecdote or prologue for a novel of an alternative world where inventions are made earlier than in our world. ***+
Survival in Shades of Orange • shortstory by Patty Jansen
A newlywed couple goes to work on outpost of an alien planet. They are supposed to research strange plants and animals living upon the planet. The husband has a secret mission - to find out what happened to earlier pair of people stationed on the same outpost. It appears that either they went mad or the station AI malfunctioned in some way. There are interesting details in the story, and the writing is pretty good. However, there are immense stupidities in the plot. Why would the husband withhold extremely critical information from his wife? There might be a lunatic AI, which controls every detail, but one member of the team isn't supposed to know? Totally idiotic and ridiculous. And the author seems to imagine that iodine tablets would somehow be useful for a radiation poisoning caused by a powerful extraneous radiation source?! They are useful only against ingested radioactive iodine – there is no whatsoever effect against any other sort of radioactive exposure. ***
Siege Perilous • novelette by Daniel Hatch
An asteroid where a large group of scientists is developing a ubiquitous AI computing system is sieged by a military spaceship. They are losing, when the invading ship makes demands that are totally ridiculous (apparently the invaders didn’t know who they were invading. An ok story which didn’t really grab me for some reason. ***