Thursday, January 28, 2016

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, March 2016

An average issue. Something good, something average, mostly readable stories.

The Coward's Option • [Andrea Cort] • novella by Adam-Troy Castro
This story continues an earlier series. A legal investigator, who specializes in relations and cases between aliens and humans, is called to audit a case where a human has killed an alien in the course of a robbery. The sentence for murder on the planet is death by slow crushing, lasting days or even weeks. There is no question of guilt. Is there anything which can be done to alleviate the sentence? It turns out that there is an option: something for total cowards or people who have some absolute commitments in their life who cannot face the death sentence. Would that opinion be possible? It turns out it could - but it could have severe repercussions for human society. A pretty good part of the series - readable, even exciting and thought provoking. ****-
Unlinkage • novelette by Eric Del Carlo
Some sort of modification has been used to create super soldiers who are “Hulk-sized” or larger. Unfortunately, the treatment renders the soldiers mental capacity to “angry-Hulk” level as well. To overcome this, “ordinary” soldiers use a sort of mental link to control the Brutes. One such controller, who after the military lives a pretty sedate life as a mother, finds that her mind link starts to work again - even when the recipient was killed in action years ago, and the link is very specific; it functions only between certain individuals. Ok story, not bad but bit slow in places. ***+
Elderjoy • shortstory by Gregory Benford
Everyone has an implanted monitor which monitors their heart rate and sends a bill when people have sex. The fee is higher for elderly, ostensibly for health reasons. (no logic there...). A horny elderly couple finds a way to beat the charges. A short story which is mildly amusingly. ***+
The Perfect Bracket • shortstory by Art Holcomb and Howard V. Hendrix [as by Howard Hendrix and Art Holcomb ]
A man has correctly predicted the outcome of 63 basketball games and has won a billion dollars. (I wonder what kind of betting agency would offer such a wager - and what is even more important - would be able to PAY it to the winner.) But there is someone who wants to find out how the deed was done, and suspects that he knows the answer: time travel. However, there is another way to accomplish the perfect betting score (which I guessed). Ok story but with some pretty confusing and clumsy parts, I didn’t really understand why the crowd got so angry at the end. ***-
Snowbird • shortstory by Joe M. McDermott
RV cars which are equipped with AI automatic drive start to converge on a remote farm. The drivers cannot be seen and when local police gets the necessary warrants to go inside, the occupant in the first car is found to be dead for a long time. Why are the cars coming with the drivers? A pretty strange story, which is not very logical. ***-
Drummer • novelette by Thomas R. Dulski
A traveling salesman goes from a solar system to another trying to sell power systems. He encounters another salesman who tries to sell longevity drugs with poor success. He later meets him again when he tries to peddle religion - once more with mediocre results. Years later, he meets the same man for the last time - under pretty unusual circumstances. The writing itself was pretty nice but otherwise an overly long and disjointed story. ***

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