Monday, July 14, 2014

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2014

A fairly nice issue, slightly better than average.

Plastic Thingy • novelette by Mark Niemann-Ross
A cute young woman comes to a hardware store. She needs some sort of red plastic thingy. She doesn’t exactly know what it is, or how it is supposed to work, or it is supposed to do. At first, it is kind of hard for the young salesman, who first suspects that someone with so stupid request must certainly be a secret shopper. But then the woman shows where the thing is needed. On an alien space ship, of course. A lighthearted, fun, well written story. Easily the best in the issue. ****
Release • shortstory by Jacob A. Boyd
The story is written mostly in second person present tense. Mankind is at war with a savage species. Human ships have as a last resort defense a button which releases a “zero bubble” which is some sort of stasis field which stops all momentum inside. (I don’t understand what that kind of invention isn’t used for other purposes – stick for example a giant bomb inside and send it to the enemy fleet). A pilot has pressed the Button, and is captured inside a field with an alien in another ship. They are so close that they are able to make gestures to each others. Should he release the bubble or not? Interspaced are reminiscences how the pilot was trained and even changed to be able to fly the space ship. Too gimmicky writing, not too logical plot. ***-
Vladimir Chong Chooses to Die • shortstory by Lavie Tidhar
A man goes to a death booth, where he can choose the manner of his death after a long life. He remembrances the deaths and lives of family members. Nice writing, but nothing special in the plot. ***
Artifice • shortstory by Naomi Kritzer
A group of friends meet regularly to play board games. One of them decides to take a humanoid robot as a perfect boyfriend. He even starts to play games with the group, especially Diplomacy, where a computer brain doesn’t have an unfair advantage. Nice writing, but nothing really surprising, including the non-logical ending. ***
Calm • shortstory by Alec Austin and Marissa Lingen
Aliens have arrived and started to uplift humans to truly sentient level. Everyone –or at least those who work with aliens - carry computers which evaluate to what degree imbalanced hormones and nerves affect the ability to make informed decisions. But there is a new race, which seems to have hugely worse problems with bad nerves than humans have ever had. A pretty good light hearted story. ***+
Beneath the Ice of Enceladus • (2009) • novelette by James C. Glass
An expedition is studying the ocean under the ice of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. A pretty predictable story. There is some personal tension, there is problems during the expedition and guess if they find life on not? A very standard story which is standardly written. ***
Championship B'tok • [InterstellarNet] • novella by Edward M. Lerner
A group of aliens live on a moon of Uranus. They apparently try to invade the Earth, but were defeated. The remnants live on the moon in kind of reservation. They have had some accidents which are being investigated. They might also have some hidden agenda. And there might also be something even more secret going on. Part of a series and feels fairly separate as itself. Ends to cliffhanger. I haven’t been a great fan of this series and I don’t love this instalment, either, but perfectly ok story. ***

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