Sunday, March 23, 2014

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January-February 2004

Some readable but often contrived stories in this large double-issue.

Inherit the Vortex • [Ray and Rokey] • novelette by Ramona Louise Wheeler
A space ship is running away from some sorts of foes. A convenient deus ex machina takes care of the enemies. A pair of adventurers/space truck drivers/scientist for hire/whatever get a job from a seedy businessman. By a remarkable co-incidence the object of the job turns out to have a huge meaning for one of the men. And it might be very dangerous for many people. But wait – there was a deus ex machina at the beginning of the story, maybe it could be used to end the story as well? Yes, that works. The End. Very contrived and stupid story, the writing as such was ok. ***
Private Eyes • novelette by Grey Rollins
A private detective who has died once and now lives in a cloned body is hired to find out why a woman with a severe disease who is offered a similar choice isn’t taking it. An average story. ***
Caged • novelette by Kyle Kirkland
A grandfather starts to find out why his granddaughter who has breached all relations (with a good cause) with the rest of her family is accused of a severe crime. Could she have done it? At least the evidence seems to suggest it, but surely she hasn’t done such a deed? Some pretty forced situations, but fairly intriguing and readable story. ***½
Swings • shortstory by Marie Ming
Starts in the middle of the story. There are students who apparently studying premedical studies, there is a dog like alien who is imprinted to a female student, and she is suffering from some sort of manic depressive disease. Another student is making a genetic profile of her to find out why she is so depressed, but that is apparently very unethical. And all ends well and story seems to continue to somewhere. A strange story which feels like a middle chapter from a below average YA- novel. **
Short Line Loco • novelette by Stephen L. Burns
A female midget who runs a supply train in the moon must take a special delivery: a military agent must get in time to another colony or a terrorist plot might mean the end of all moon habitats. At first it seemed like a close thing, but when the timeline changes it seems there is no change at all about making it in time. At least by any conventional means..A pretty entertaining and smoothly running Analog style of story. ****-
Weapon of Mass Distraction • novelette by Richard A. Lovett
Computer systems analyze _everything_ to find out suspicious behavior to prevent terrorism. It is just too bad that there is a lot of collateral damage as many people may behave suspiciously by accident. And that is something the real terrorists might use to terrorize the nation… A well written, good and even thought provoking story. ***½
Shed Skin • (2002) • shortstory by Robert J. Sawyer
A man has loaded his personality and memories at an android body. That is the “official” person. The “leftover”, the meat body (with intact personality and memories) is supposed to live the rest of his life in a resort style closed area. But he isn’t happy of the sedentary life and makes a desperate act to get his old life back. A fairly contrived background, pretty stupid ending, but smoothly readable story otherwise. ***+
Decisions • shortstory by Michael A. Burstein
An astronaut has returned from his journey and has been imprisoned as soon as he landed. It turns out he landed before he left. There is a change that the information from the future would cause a paradox which might lead to catastrophic consequences. With no regard to that, he escapes and acts very stupidly. It turns out that something else is going on. Extremely stupidly behaving characters and aliens, and the end is something from the worst Campbellian style stories: The humans are _special_ .**+
Annual Annular Annals • shortstory by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre
A time police goes to New Year ’s Eve 1999 and finds that everyone is turned to a skeleton and all food has disappeared from everywhere. An extremely stupid story with many stupid puns and with a “shaggy dog” ending. **-
Deletion • novelette by Steven Bratman
A young woman is meeting her therapist: she has discovered that her genome lacks a few genes. Maybe that explains why she has always had a felling she is lacking something. The therapist discovers that everyone lacks them, but change to human genome has apparently happened in about year 2000. What has happened after that which could be explained by that change: surely not the disappearance of family ties, countries and loyalties to sport teams and all sorts of organizations? Could such a minor change be genetic? A pretty good and though provoking story. An interesting and well described alternative future. ****-
Inversus • novelette by Alec Nevala-Lee
A man has a psychotic break - the furniture starts to attack him. He escapes to a subway station where a corkscrew kills a man who approaches. The moving things are real! A manhunt ensues. Why several people with situs inversion are dead? An extremely implausible story with some very stupid details. The writing is average. ***-

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