Saturday, December 26, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January-February 2016

A large double issue. Fairly average as such, but once more several stories which feel like just parts of a larger tale. That has been a common failing in Analog lately.

Wyatt Earp 2.0 • novella by Wil McCarthy
Wyat Earp is resurrected as a computer approximation which loaded to "printed" human body. He is supposed to help bring order to a Martian mining colony. He has some adjusting to do but eventually adjusts to future society. The writing is pretty good, but the concept is fairly ridiculous, even if it admittedly is entertaining and new. ***½
We Will Wake Among the Gods, Among the Stars • novelette by Tina Connolly and Caroline M. Yoachim
Apparently a planet has been colonized centuries (?) ago. Most of the settlements have lost the knowledge of developed technology and consider the remnants to be sacred gifts from the gods. An expedition is trying to find a mystical city, as to what happened to the earlier expedition, and especially what happened to the great amount of gold the expedition had brought with it for trading. They find what they were looking for, but it is not what they were expecting. A nice, well-written story but feels like a continuation of an earlier story and the background is too vague and the story isn't very original. ***-
Farmer • shortstory by Joe M. McDermott
A family of farmers produces organic food stocks. Apparently there are superbugs which are spread by food going around. One of their customers gets sick and they are facing a federal investigation and they might have something to hide. An average story with some irritating anti-GMO tendencies. ***-
Rocket Surgery • shortstory by Effie Seiberg
An intelligent and learning bomb turns out to be slightly too intelligent…A nice short story. ***+
Saving the World • shortstory by James E. Gunn [as by James Gunn ]
It turns out that reading science fiction alters the cognitive functions towards tolerance and creativity. Science has begun to be taught at schools and the world is saved. Ok story, I could have believed it before the rabid/sad puppies: if they read science fiction and are misogynist bigots, then apparently the science fiction doesn’t make people better. ***
The Persistence of Memory • shortstory by Rachel L. Bowden
Two nerdy young boys find a strange animal. Or do they? Nice writing, but not a lot of actual plot. ***-
Theories of Mind • shortstory by Conor Powers-Smith
A new recruit to the research base on a planet with really strange aliens runs into trouble on his first day. The concept of the alien’s language and thought patterns is very novel and interesting. On the other hand, the experienced leader of the research station should have been able to prevent the predicament in the first place. ***
Nature's Eldest Law • shortstory by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
An expedition is studying an extraterrestrial planet. They find strange plants which appear to simulate human thought processes, especially in decision making. One man isn't affected as strongly as others, as he has some dependency issues he is going through. But how is it possible that plants with such effects seem to appear so suddenly on an alien planet? A decent story, but far too short for all ideas. Once again, a little backstory is given, and the story ends when things become really interesting. ***
The Heat of Passion • novelette by Grey Rollins
A man is murdered. By chance, another man who is visiting his grandmother at an old people's home sees the murder. But there is a good reason why he can't contact the police. A pretty nice story in spite of some illogicalities. (If the genetic enhancements were so common among richer people, there would have been some powerful lobbying that the extreme persecution of the modified would never have happened). ***+
Woundings • shortstory by George Zebrowski
Men who live in space came down to stop coal fires used for energy, as that kind of pollution is apparently forbidden. The fire is used to power air conditioning of a library filled with original books no one can read anymore. More a philosophical discussion than a story. **½
The Shores of Being • novelette by Dave Creek
Continues an earlier series of stories where insectoid aliens with a hive mind have invaded Earth. Mike Christopher, who is an android, comes to examine an abandoned alien hive with a member of another alien species, a species that has also been invaded by the same enemy. They encounter some local militia men, who would like to keep the alien mound as a sacred place for those who died there. Ok story, not among the best of the series. Some of the attitudes of humans were more alien than most of the real aliens. ***
An Industrial Growth • novelette by David L. Clements
Feels like a second or third (or fourth) part of a series, but I am not aware of any previous installments. Earth has apparently been devastated by severe ecological catastrophes, and then by faulty nanotechnology, which was designed to overcome the first catastrophe. There is some sort of dangerous nanotech installation which should be destroyed. A group of people - two of them are people, who have mostly lived as computer uploads, go on the mission. The real humans blame them for the catastrophes as they did nothing to prevent them (that is not entirely logical at least from given scanty backstory). As such, a pretty decent story, but as there was no backstory it was hard to create any real emotional bond to any of the characters. If I don't know the world or the characters at all, why should I care about their mission or whether or not they survive? ***

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