Friday, January 16, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, March 2015

A pretty average issue, none of the stories was unusually good. The back-story was lacking in many of them.

Tasha's Fail-Safe • novelette by Adam-Troy Castro

Belongs to a series about a woman who solves crimes or deals with trouble with aliens. There was little backstory and it took a while to remember at least some of the background of the world. Another member of the same agency has been on the trail of a spy, but the spy apparently caught her, as she is in self-induced unresponsive state. The most sensitive workers of the agency are taught to induce such coma to prevent being questioned. But there is a problem: she doesn't wake up as she was supposed to. And the spy is still unrecognized. Then she naturally saves the day, perhaps too easily. A well written story, but wasn't really easy to get into. ***
Brigas Nunca Mais • novelette by Martin L. Shoemaker
A story about wedding, told during a wedding. A pair of officers have a stormy courtship and a devoted relationship and are about to get married when a disaster strikes. A moving story, but when it is told from third person perspective it feels somewhat less emotional it might be. ***+
Robot Boss • shortstory by Erick Melton
A boss who is an AI might be hard to please, especially when it isn't supposed to be able to make mistakes. Especially, when it seems to have made one. It's clear who is to be blamed -or is it? An average story, slightly too long.***
Blue Ribbon • shortstory by Marissa Lingen
Children who have taken part in different competitions on Oort Cloud colony are shut away from the colony due to an epidemic. The actual "catastrophe " part was too short, and the scheming part after that was too long, especially when there was little backstory about the workings of the society.***+
Second Birthday • shortstory by Elisabeth R. Adams
A birthday party starring some giant sloths and other extinct animals. A very short – might be a parody of something, but I didn’t get it. **
The Badges of Her Grief • shortstory by Andrew Barton
A some sort of examiner comes to see if aliens are treated fairly on some sort of installation. A story which is very heavy on discussion, very light on backstory and pretty hard to get into. A slight twist at the end, but I didn't really care about the story. **+
An Immense Darkness • shortstory by Eric James Stone
A scientist working with a virtual recording of his wife (who was killed in a terrorist attack) is asked to interrogate the recording of the terrorist who is responsible for the attack. A good, moving and thought provoking story. ***½
The Extraordinary Extraterrestrial Togo Mouse from Ghana • shortstory by Ryan W. Norris
Zoologists find mouse that look almost exactly like normal mouse, but have totally alien biochemistry up to and including DNA. A nice idea and the writing was ok, but there isn’t much of a story here. ***-
Karma Among the Cloud Kings • novelette by Brian Trent
Buddhists take care of a pumping station on planet which is pumped for its hydrogen. They find out that they have been lied to, and the planet has been a stage of a great injustice. But they might still make things right. Talky, somewhat overlong story with a fairly familiar plot (which is reeled in very fast, when the story eventually gets going.)***

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Leena Lehtolainen: Minne tytöt kadonneet

Maria Kallio is a female police who works in an unit established for unusual and significant crimes. She has narrowly escaped a bomb attack while founding a school for policewomen in Afghanistan. After she has returned to Finland her unit tries to find young refugee women who have disappeared without trace. They have all been members of a “girls’ club” established to improve relations between refugees and locals. Then one member of the club is found dead near her school. Is there a connection between her murder and the disappearances? A pretty good police procedural book, vastly better than the last book I read by this author.

Maria Kallio on ollut Afganistanissa auttamassa poliisikoulun perustamisessa. Selvittyään täpärästi maantievarren miinahyökkäyksestä hän palaa takaisin Suomeen Espoon poliisiin. Espoossa ensimmäisenä juttunaan hän alkaa selvittää minne useampi nuori maahanmuuttaja tyttö on kadonnut. Osassa omaiset vaikuttavat olevan oikeasti hädissään, osassa he taas ovat erikoisen välinpitämättömiä asiassa. Yhteisenä tekijän tapauksille vaikuttaa olevan vain tytöille tarkoitettu kerho, jossa myös Marian oma tytär usein viettää aikaansa. Tutkimukset ovat vasta ehtineet alkuun, kun yksi maahanmuuttajatyttö löytyy koulunsa lähimetsästä kuristettuna. Liittyykö tämä murha aikaisempiin tyttöjen katoamisiin? Ja onko Afganistanin tapahtumilla jotain yhteyttä siihen, mitä Maria tutkii Suomessa.

Olin Leena Lehtolaisen kirjoista aikaisemmin pääosin pitänyt, mutta katastrofaalisen huonon Henkivartijan jälkeen oli korkea kynnys palata kirjailijan teoksiin. Elisa-kirjan hyvä tarjous oli sitten sen verran houkutteleva, että ajattelin antaa vielä yhden mahdollisuuden. Ja ihan hyvä kirja tämä oli, ihan toista tasoa kuin Henkivartija – ja ehkä jopa parempi kuin edellinen Maria Kallio – sarjan teos, jonka lukemisesta kyllä on jo kulunut melkoinen aika. Nopeasti luettava ja viihdyttävä teos, jossa oli jopa jonkintasoisia yllätyksiäkin juonessa ja joka tarjosi myös ajattelun aihetta enemmän kuin moni tusinadekkari.

342 s.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2001

A fairly good issue.

Club Masquerade • novella by Kevin J. Anderson

People have learned to exchange personalities at will. Practically no one lives long in the same body. A group of students have lived for all their lives in an orphanage for children who are born to mothers with random, unknown personalities. They are taught how to change minds, but of them one isn't able to do that - but he is instinctively able to know who the person actually is regardless what body he or she is wearing. A bit overlong, and disjointed story. **+
The Thrill of a Lifetime • novelette by Brian Plante
A man has died in a traffic accident. His mind has been uploaded to a computer and he uses an android body for extreme sports. The computer which runs his “program” is in a rented apartment. Once it is stolen by a burglar. Luckily, the burglar doesn’t close the program but uses the computer to run a violent FPS-game. Will the computer be found? A pretty good story, which could have been longer. ***½
Trafalgar Square • shortstory by Sarah A. Hoyt
An alternate world where Europe and Asia have changed “tracts”. Asia is industrialized, rich and developed. Europe is full of poor people just escaping from totalitarian governments – except the UK which is an analogue for the modern China with totalitarian “communism” with a sort of free market at the same time with severe restrictions on the freedom of thought and speech. A fairly good story, but it was far too literal treatment, everything up to Tiananmen massacre finds its’ correspondence. ***
Nefertiti's Tenth Life • shortstory by Mary A. Turzillo
A story of a euthanized cat, whose mind has been uploaded to a robot body. She is mildly amazed when her slaves don’t seem to love her as much anymore and her sense of smell and appetite seem to have disappeared. Apparently, the robot body is somewhat stronger (and perhaps smarter) than the original cat. A nice story, which could have been longer. ***+
Jake, Me, and the Zipper • shortstory by Rajnar Vajra
Alien children save a small child in an emergency due to extremely contrived circumstances. They live on a planet with mostly pleasant climate so windows are just holes on the wall (no wind what so ever?) but there are occasional very heavy storms and there are automatic systems inside the walls which launch shatterproof screens to the window holes when needed. The system malfunctions and a small child is left inside with no way out. The liens save the day risking themselves. The writing was ok, but the plot was as said very contrived. ***-
The Return of Spring • novelette by Shane Tourtellotte
A man "wakes up" after a treatment for Alzheimer's. He returns home and his family and he himself have a lot adjusting to do. There are many similarities with a (later) Hugo winner, Rainbows End. At places, the technology of 2030's already felt old fashioned. The description of the Alzheimer symptoms didn't ring completely true: I haven't encountered a tendency to destroy things very often and there fairly good drugs to smooth the symptoms. As a whole a pretty good and well written story anyway. ****-

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pirkko Saisio: Punainen erokirja

Unlinear memories about love, Stalinism, coming out from the closet and studying at University at 70s. Writing was very fresh and enjoyable; but the contents felt like the similar story had been told countless times before. A winner of the Finlandia award.

Epälineaarinen, mielikuvituksellisella ja luovalla tyylillä kirjoitettu muistelmateos kirjailijan elämästä, joka painottuu eniten 70-lukuun. Kirja muistuttaa usein enemmän jonkinlaista proosarunoa kuin varsinaista tavanomaista suoraa proosakerrontaa. Tarinan sisältö ei sinällään ole poikkeuksellista, kyse on rakkaudesta, eroista, opiskelusta, oman seksuaalisuuden tunnistamisesta ja vanhempien reaktiosta homouteen ja opiskelijoiden kommunismiherännäisyydesta. Etenkin viimeksi mainitun vuoksi kirjoittajasta saa aika naivin henkilön kuvan, oikeastiko 70-luvulla "kommaripropaganda" noin kokonaisena nielaistiin? No toisaalta, ilmeisesti kyllä nieltiin. Ensimmäisessä luvussa kirjailija väittää menettäneensä kirjansa aikaisemman version vahingossa. Tapa millä tämä olisi tapahtunut kuulostaa todella epäuskottavalta ja naurettavalta. Jaa että kokonaisesta kirjasta ei olisi varmuuskopiota, ei yhtään eri nimellä talletettua versiota ja kun vahingossa merkkaa koko tekstin ja deletoi sen ja sitten nähtävästi tallentaa sen tyhjän tiedoston aikaisemman päälle? Oikeasti? Kai sitä kirjailijan pitäisi osata työvälineitään edes jotenkin käyttää? Kyseessä oli aika nopeasti luettava, eikä mitenkään huono kirja. Kielellisesti kyseessä on oikein kiinnostava ja jopa nautittava kirja, joka on vähintäänkin keskitasoa Finlandia-voittajista. (joista vuoden 2000 jälkeen palkituista on nyt vain yksi kpl enää lukematta uusimman lisäksi).

298 pp.