Thursday, November 8, 2012

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January-February 2013

A pretty good issue with mostly very entertaining stories.

In The Moment • shortstory by Jerry Oltion
A comet is approaching moon. If it hits the moon, it might cause "splatter" which would hit earth with catastrophic consequences. (I am not sure, if that were the case - could that cause SO big effects?) A teenage girl (whose parents apparently are religious nuts) is on a field watching what happens. She meets her male classmate who also has come to watch. A sweet but simple story. ***½
The Exchange Officers • novelette by Brad R. Torgersen
Chinese attack a space station US is constructing on orbit. A pair of building crew who use remote working system unsurprisingly defeat them. A pretty standard Analog-style story. The plot was unsurprising, but the pretty nice writing gave freshness to the otherwise very conventional plot. ***+
The War of the Worlds, Book One, Chapter 18: The Sergeant-Major • shortstory by John G. Hemry
A missing chapter from Well's “War of the Worlds”, where a very British group of soldiers who have no doubt what so ever, that the British people are the best anywhere, defeat a Martian invader. A nice "fan fiction" style addition to a familiar tale. ***+
The Woman Who Cried Corpse • novella by Rajnar Vajra
Computer programmer's mother (who was a famous scientist who had won Nobel price) is dying from a stroke in a hospital. She seems to die, but then revives and does that again, and again. Later she disappears from the hospital. When her daughter arrives at the scene, she is arrested as a suspect for her mother’s murder and for hacking the computer system of the hospital to cover up the murder. While she is still being interrogated on the scene by police officers, they are attacked and most of the agents on the scene are shot. Then there are pages and pages of action. After that there are pages and pages of detailed explanation of fake science, after that there are pages and pages of exposition done by one character explaining what happened, and then the story ends. Without any really good, sane, half believable explanation why the attack in the hospital even took place. The writing as such was ok, but the plot and pacing of the story were not ok. ***-
Descartes's Stepchildren • novelette by Robert Scherrer
A scientist is trying to discover the brain centre for consciousness. He finds that a part of population doesn't have it. Does he refine his methods? No, he concludes that some people aren't conscious - even though there are NO corroborating evidence and no psychological evaluation or any other study can differentiate between those people who have supposedly have consciousness and those supposedly don't have it. And for some strange reason his findings are taken seriously, which leads to the predictable outcome with concentration camps and so on. Writing was ok, but the stupidity of the science was overwhelming. ***
Neighborhood Watch • shortstory by H.G. Stratmann
The dozens of intelligent species of solar system debate if they should still continue to fool humans and pretend that there is no life anywhere in the system - or should they just get rid of those pesky and irritating troublemakers. A humorous story, ok in its class. ***
True to Form • novelette by Kyle Kirkland
There are artificial humans who are used for manual and dangerous work; there is some sort of conspiracy involving something, a death of an important politician in suspicious circumstances and a lot of expositionary dialog. I really didn't get into this story. **
Buddha Nature • novelette by Amy Thomson
A robot arrives at a Buddhist monastery and wants stay there and become enlightened. Is it self-aware? Does it have rights or is it just property? And is it possible that a mere machine really could be spiritually enlightened? A pretty good, enjoyable and well written story. ***½
Time Out • novella by Edward M. Lerner
A story of a "sidekick" (out of work bank employee) of a "mad scientist", who invents a working time machine. There are naturally paradoxes and a threat of serious butterfly effect. And it all ends in flames. (That is not a spoiler, as the main story is told as a flashback after the fire). Another well written very good story. Probably the best of the issue. ****-

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