Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2016

An uneven issue. Something pretty good, something pretty bad.

Progress Report • novella by Rajnar Vajra

Some sorts of animals slowly learn things day by day. Apparently, the food it eats gives it new information and even new memories. Memories of a strange alien creature, a human. And learning is interspaced by tests of character. Why is he getting alien memories and what are the tests for? An excellent story with interesting characters. ****
Detroit Hammersmith, Zero-Gravity Toilet Repairman (Retired) • novelette by Suzanne Palmer
An important diplomatic meeting is coming up on a space station and the toilets are clogging with strange frog-like creatures. What is going on? And what is most important, how can it be stopped so that the talks will not fail? Okay, humorous story, but it is nothing really exceptional and doesn’t really work for me. **½
Deep Waters Call Out to What is Deeper Still • shortstory by Sarah Frost
Fish in an aquarium are being taken care of in a virtual sea environment. A caretaker also somehow mends with their mind to evaluate if everything is going well. Then she is supposed to go into the mind of an octopus which is not adjusting. More of a scene than a real story. I would have liked more background and more details. I didn’t really care much for it. **½
Silhouettes • shortstory by Dave Creek
The old man is alone, observing strange animals on a planet with heavy winds. His health is failing and he ponders his life. It's a short bittersweet story. Apparently its the end of a character who has been in at least one earlier story by the same author. ***-
Dreams of the Rocket Men • novelette by C. Stuart Hardwick
A young man befriends an elderly man who builds and designs rockets. Together they design novel hobbyist rocket models and slowly that leads to a career for the young man. He eventually is part of a group who makes some real progress on a rocket design. A very good story which could have been longer. ****-
Nesting Dolls • novelette by Jacob A. Boyd
A slower than light generation ship is on its way to another galaxy (!!? A the author apparently doesn't have the slightest idea about distances between galaxies). For some strange reason the ship is built from concentric levels, so the oldest technology is used inside. When more advanced tech was designed on the Earth, a new ship was overtaken. The older and then the new level have been built over the old ship. (Hard to imagine the senseless and stupid approach). A child is kidnapped by inhabitants of a deeper level. Some stupid shit happens then and in the end the ship stops on different planets looking for a habitable one. Between galaxies? Usually the stories in Analog make some technological sense - I wonder if the current editor has any science education? The writing is slightly better than the plot and background, but it certainly couldn't have been worse. **-

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