Thursday, July 9, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2015

Analog seems to go steadily downhill. This was a pretty bad issue. The serial (which I haven’t started) takes a lot of space, and stories are pretty mediocre. There seem to be more and more stories, which are just portions of the real tale – or seem to continue an earlier, apparently unpublished, story. A good short story should be self-standing, with a beginning, a middle and a real ending. Very often lately published stories contain only the middle part – at best. I have been reading Analog for decades – I am starting to wonder if it is time to stop.

Racing to Mars • novelette by Martin L. Shoemaker

A doctor who has been fired from her job after she blew a whistle on some shady practices finds she can’t find another job. She gets a job as a doctor on a spaceship running to Mars. The ship seems to be modeled very closely marine ships from the 19th century or so. Captain’s power is absolute, there are rich passengers enjoying the leisure on board, there is ample room and so on. A son of the owner of the shipping company is on the ship and behaves very obnoxiously. But the captain is able to enforce some discipline. ..At first the story felt very irritating as all characters very extremely unsympathetic. But the theme was personal growth and the characters changed during the story – perhaps even a bit too much to be believable. There was a slight feel of YA-fiction, but as whole not bad. By far the best story in the issue. ***½
Live From the Air Chair • shortstory by Maggie Clark
Seems to continue an earlier story, but I couldn’t find any installments in possible series, not from Analog at least. Ther background is pretty thick, but apparently most of the people are living on orbit in small ships very close to each other. So close that you can jump in a space suit from one ship to another and when you are traveling you can see people from windows and wave. I can’t exactly wrap my mind on how that could work considering relative distances and speeds. It sounds incredibly stupid and impossible. Some sort of relationship has ended, and a wife has moved out to live with her family. A bad man tries to extort her for some artifact and she asks her former husband for help. There is a ruthless group who are ready to do anything to get the item and including wanton murder. A very confusing story, which doesn’t really work alone. With a very strange and extremely hard to believe setting. The writing was pretty thick. **-
The Crashing of the Cloud • shortstory by Norman Spinrad
A hacker, who has wiped all the records of Internal Revenue Service, has escaped to Yemen. He fears for his life, but it is said that it is sure that no jury would sentence him. (I wonder why wouldn’t – his actions are clearly illegal, and most people agree that taxes are necessary. I also wonder why that wiping prevented the collection of taxes for that year – all IRS should have done was to ask again for the information – a lot of hassle but possible). A Taliban sheik asks him to take down the Internet. He explains that it is impossible, but he might be able to do something accomplishing almost as good effects. After some haggling about terms, they come to agreement – and then the story ends. The writing was as good as can be expected, this is just a piece of a tale, with a poor beginning and with no real end. ***+
The Limits of Belief • shortstory by Arlan Andrews [as by Arlan Andrews, Sr. ]
A pretty confusing story without much background. A rich art collector usually refuses all visitors, but someone manages to persuade him with an offer that is hard to refuse. Thick writing and scant background makes this story pretty hard to get. Some expansion might have made this easier to grasp. Now it just feels forced. **+

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