Saturday, December 6, 2014

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January-February 2015

A pretty good issue, mostly nice, well written stories.

Malnutrition • novelette by J. T. Sharrah
An alien ambassador is almost murdered at a diplomatic reception. The species in question has an extremely strong taboo against eating in public. While he is unconscious he is fed and that causes “some” problems for all concerned. The first half of the story was better than the last half where events “rolled in” fairly fast and fairly unsatisfactorily. Also, I wonder how the diplomatic corps (both alien and human) are so unfamiliar with different customs and can’t really even suspect that the alien habits might be unfamiliar and strange. ***+
The Yoni Sutra • shortstory by Priya Chand
A short story about future India where women wear implants which prevent any men (outside of family) even touching them. And even looking at a woman without permission is punishable – painfully so. Just a glimpse to a fascinating world. A newlywed woman (with no knowledge of sex) is coping with different pressures and attitudes. Good writing, but too short. ***+
The Great Leap of Shin • novella by Henry Lien
A prequel (?) for a story which was published in Asimov’s. A scientific advisor of the emperor of China is trying to trigger a huge earthquake (by getting almost everyone in China to jump at a harmonic frequency – among other schemes). The resulting earthquake would destroy the island of Pearl, a wonderful island made from extremely slippery material enabling skating everywhere. A group of youngster has come to make the plea for stopping the “great leap” so that their home would be saved. An excellent and well written story. If this were published later in the year, it would have been a strong contender for awards. Now it is going to take more than a year before it is eligible. ****+
Just Browsing • novelette by Stephen Lombard
Aliens have come. They have only limited time, but one thing they want to see is a library in a small town. Why? There is a somewhat good reason and they find something else interesting, another fairly good story, but the relationship stuff somehow didn't ring true. ***
Ulenge Prime • shortstory by Chuck Rothman
An African dictator builds a space station by a rule of terror. When the inevitable coup comes he escapes there with his wife. Is there a reason for his madness? A short, implausible but even sad story. ***
Long Way Gone • shortstory by David L. Clements
A copy of a man despairs on an alien planet. He and his wife were supposed to be copied simultaneously to a ready built (by nano machines) base, but for some reason she didn't do it. He has some trouble adjusting. Another well written story, but it is just a glance, just a "changing point", and something is lacking from the whole. ***
Why the Titanic Hit the Iceberg • shortstory by Jerry Oltion
Earth is almost destroyed. The richest of the rich live at a huge space station enjoying indecent luxury, while the service staff is planning a revolution. A good but nihilistic and pessimistic story. ***½
Fool's Errand • shortstory by Judith Tarr
A horse wakes up from deep sleep during a hyperspace journey. Unfortunately, no living things can survive jumping phase of the trip without proper shielding (except cats and ferrets). Should the magnificent animal be put down or is there a way? A fairly good story with perhaps too easy ending. ***
Samsara and Ice • shortstory by Andy Dudak
Two soldiers have battle which last centuries. The wake up periodically, and one kills another. The is a conditioning to perform like that. But once another put down his weapon. The back story in the beginning was pretty thick, but when the story got going it was pretty good.***+
Unmother • shortstory by Lex Wilson
Sentient white cells/nano machines/alien invaders (?) live inside a human brain. One of the “cells” (or whatever they are) leads a mutiny of sorts against theirs “mother” and helps other to escape probable doom (a brain tumor?). A pretty strange story where it was kind of hard to grasp what really was going on, and what the protagonists were. But surprisingly readable in spite of that. ***
Marduk's Folly • shortstory by Sean Vivier
Aliens are approaching solar system, and miss earth as they believe no habitable planets might be so close the sun. Very short, nothing really special. **
Usher • novelette by Jay Werkheiser
Aliens have landed on Canada. They don't seem to be able to hear anything and they don't respond to any visual means of communication, either. A psychologist with Usher's syndrome (almost blind and deaf, using cochlear implants) tries to establish contact. But the UN troops are arriving to take over. Unreasonably unreasonable UN troops who apparent are able to arrive to Canada by jaunting, or how the takeover is so fast? But the way the aliens perceive the reality is pretty novel. Not bad, but the hint of US paranoia with invading UN troops is irritating. ***+
Defender of Worms • [Floyd and Brittney] • novella by Richard A. Lovett
Continues a series an Artificial Intelligence, who was born more or less accidently. She is on run, as other AIs who live on the Internet want to assimilate her – and as she really values her individuality she really doesn’t want that. She lives inside a chip which is installed in a rich heiress, who is avoiding the politician mother. Together their form a firm friendship and try to survive “off the grid”. A good story, like the other instalments of the series. Probably wouldn’t work alone, as it is an integral (the last one?) part of the series. ***½

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