Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Human Division by John Scalzi

Part of the “Old Man’s War” series.
The book continues the story from the Lost Colony. The Earth now knows that the Colonial Union has kept them in the dark about what is really going on the galaxy. The relations are strained, but there are diplomatic talks starting with Earth and CU. There are also some fledgling discussions between CU and the Conclave, a union of dozens, if not hundreds of alien races. And the Conclave is tempting Earth to join them and to abandon CU completely. But it starts to seem that some party doesn’t want that those discussions will come to something and is ready for extreme actions to sow distrust.
This book was originally published as a series of stories which could be bought separately as e-books. As the Amazon was charging horrible surcharge for non-US readers I had to wait for the real book publication. Was it worth of the wait? Well - yes and no.
The original format causes some problems. Especially in the beginning the chapters felt very separate and it was hard to find coherent plot line running through. As the book progressed that problem mostly went away as a fairly coherent plot emerged and it turned to something lot less fractured, even the writing felt better by the end of the book. However, the story doesn’t end here, it practically just begins…
432 pp.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, June 2001

A pretty good issue, clearly above the average.

Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl's • novella by Adam-Troy Castro
A veteran of the early days of the building of the moon colony returns to the moon, already very urban and nothing like a frontier anymore. He tries to find an old couple the old generation of the works in the moon used to know and spend nice Sunday afternoons with. They had a nice little farm with a beautiful grassy lawn with a friendly dog. There is no record at all anywhere that they ever even existed. Was he out of his mind and imagined it all? A very good story which approaches fantasy. ****
Elsewhere • [Common Universe] • novelette by Pauline Ashwell
A some sort of future operation which is terraforming an alien planet uses time travel not only to speed up the terraforming, but to snatch people from the past to work on the project. A young and bright girl from some sort of Chinese scientific work camp from the 23rd or so century is drafted. After some adjusting, she takes up a project of own. A pretty good and well written story. ***½
A Star in the East • shortstory by Laurence M. Janifer
A man has hidden a bomb at a casino. The bomb will explode an hour after his heart stops beating. When he is dying at the age of 112, he asks a friend that the bomb would be made inactive. And in secret. Not so easy when the bomb is in the casino’s president’s office. A short, fairly simple story without much of a point. I didn’t really get it at all. Was it meant as a parody of something? **
Spaceships • shortstory by Michael A. Burstein
In a far far future humans have evolved beyond matter. One human (or some sort of energy being which used to be human millennia ago) has a collection of authentic space ships from the human history. Another former human comes to visit him – for the first time in eons. A pretty good and well written story. ***+

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2013

An average or below average issue, nothing really memorable.

Bugs • shortstory by Ron Collins
Experimental nanomachines are used to treat an otherwise incurable heart disease. They work. Very, very, well. A pretty good and well written tale, which deserves to be the lead story of the issue. ***½
The Matthews Conundrum • [InterstellarNet] • novella by Edward M. Lerner
Earth is a part of an interstellar information sharing network. There are several inhabited words inside a radius of twenty something light years. As different words have different strengths trading with information has a boon for all of them. However, there is something strange: all the civilizations are on approximately on the same level of technological advancement. How likely is that? Not very. A guy who was going to publish that finding disappears after a bar night for a week. His reputation is hurt as everyone assumes that he has been boozing for the whole time. A slightly overlong story which probably will be continued as ending was pretty open. ***-
Copper Charley • shortstory by Joseph Weber
The manager of a coal mine has some trouble. The pesky lawyers are suing his company just because the slush from coal mining is causing cancer and ruining houses. A friend introduces him to a botanist, who has developed plants which are able to collect pure copper from the soil. He plants them over the coal mines and it seems his problems are solved. He runs into some trouble though: The plants use so much water that the groundwater of the whole state is depleted. The writing was ok, but the ending was very stupid: where would all that HUGE amount of water go? ***-
Make Hub, Not War • [The Hub Gates] • novelette by Christopher L. Bennett
One more story in the series about a young man who wishes to find how the hub (an interstellar transport system) works. This time they get to visit earth, someone is using spaceships for smuggling dangerous cargo in a novel way. A lot of idle talk and felt overlong. **½
Deceleration • shortstory by Bud Sparhawk
A strange and unusual light is seen on sky on rare intervals during several centuries. It is what you would expect. **½
Distant • shortstory by Michael Monson
An astronaut on top of a rocket has a lame spiritual moment. Yawn. **½
The Eagle Project • shortstory by Jack McDevitt
The nanoscale space drones have reached one more solar system. No one is really interested as none of the others have ever seen anything really interesting. This time there is a glimpse…Another very short story with a minor foreseeable twist. ***
Redskins of the Badlands • novelette by Paul Di Filippo
A lot of explaining of a technology which involves multipurpose, semi intelligent “skins” people wear and some sort of robotic drones. The is some sort of plot which involves the desecration of the limestone pillars build by carbon binding bacteria and some ridiculous plot involving dinosaur bones. A pretty stupid story which was probably meant to be funny. It didn’t really work for me. **½

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1971

A pretty average issue, nothing really good but nothing really mediocre, either.

The Lion Game (Part 1 of 2) • [Telzey Amberdon • 2] • serial by James H. Schmitz

A Telsey story. I was reading this story from an e-pub version of the magazine. The story ended very suddenly, so suddenly that I had to dig up my real, authentic paper version of the magazine. "Part 1 of 2" . Oh, that explains it.
Telsey is once again kidnapped, this time by mind reading aliens living in a cave system. But as she is the most beautiful, the smartest and generally the bestest of them all with totally, completely irresistible psi-powers no one naturally has a slightest chance against her. ***-
Analog • novelette by Grant Callin [as by Grant D. Callin ]
The library of congress decides to develop a computer system for searching information from the published research articles. For some very strange reason´s they think that the best approach would be to copy a live human brain as detailed as possible. Not a single thought is given to the possible ethical implications. Finally, they succeed beyond the expectations: they are able to produce a functional human brain. A newborn one. A pretty stupid and dated story. **½
Letter from an Unknown Genius • shortstory by Colin Kapp
A mediocre scientist who is working for the military of a country with some expansion desires has gotten a letter detailing a new invention which seems to break the laws of physics. A weapon which has been developed using the details of invention has destroyed a wide area. The only survivor is hiding on a monastery. A famous scientist who widely is considered to be the best in the world comes meet him and turns out to be a woman, surprise, surprise. Americans and Russians have also lost research bases in catastrophic accidents. Is someone really brilliant pranking the major nations? A fairly well written story with some dated attitudes. ***+
A Little Knowledge • [Technic History] • novelette by Poul Anderson
A group of swindlers hire a spaceship from an alien, underdeveloped planet with a fairly slow (but FTL) spaceships for a passage to another solar system. The try to hijack it and are going to sell for an even less developed planet. However, the alien defeats moronic hijackers easily. A simple story with a far too long build up. ***-
Dummyblind • novelette by Douglas Fulthorpe
The best soldier of the army is on a mission. This would be the last one before he is transferred to training and PR duties. But he must survive the last mission first…The most part of the story contains an extremely detailed description of a guerilla mission to an enemy base. As they is no real backstory for the character, mission or even of the factions which are fighting I couldn’t have cared less. There is a slight twist at the end, but it was something which was easy to guess, (the soldier has just a personality transfer of the good fighter). **½
Ratman • [LaNague Federation] • shortstory by F. Paul Wilson
A ratman uses trained spacerat to root other spacerat infestations away. But he has a side job as a spy. Someone on a neutral planet seems to give information to rebels. Will his spacerats find the culprit? Ok story with a very juvenile feel in it. ***-