Sunday, October 16, 2016

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2016

An average issue.

Novelette "One Man's Dignity" by Mark Niemann-Ross
An elderly welder is working on a space station, mainly training new welders. The company rules state that he is supposed to retire. He does not want to return to the earth. The station commander is able to extend his job until the current project is finished. The welders use a derelict cargo container, the ownership of which is tied up in the bankruptcy court for welding practice, and makes a clandestine bar/man cave out of it. Ultimately, the welder moves to the container, but the day his retirement will be mandatory is approaching... A pretty standard story about an old man who is at odds with the establishment. Not bad at all, though. ***½
Short Story: "Love Pops!" by Genevieve Williams
A policewoman is pretending to be a contestant in a “American Bachelor”- type reality show, where people may use virtual reality style equipment to see things from the perspective of the participants. Someone has made threats against the show host/bachelor, who is the “prize” the participants are trying to win. It is a bit of a disorderly story in places, and the ending somehow did not feel right, but not bad at all. ***+
Short Story: "The Tattling Tats" by Jerry Oltion
A short amusing story about tattoos, which can move (and contain tracking devices) and how teens use them. ***+
Short Story: "The Salesman" by Garrett Ashley
The story happens in the 2060s. Apparently, nothing has changed except shops use anthropomorphic robots with AI capabilities and army uses mechas. There are gasoline cars, laptops, ordinary mobile phones (and even land lines!) and people apparently watch ordinary TV, chatting apps work exactly like those today, and so on. A young boy living in the countryside with his mother and stepmom, finds a discarded, partly broken robot. His stepfather does not like the robots and the boy does not tell his parents what he has found. He contacts the manufacturer and they eventually pick up the robot. The story has some shades of Huckleberry Finn at the beginning, but then the story just ends – the ending is unsatisfying. The world was not believable at all, and was far too similar to the present. **-
Short Story: "In the Absence of Instructions to the Contrary" by Frank Wu
An undersea autonomous AI research robot has fallen in love with its designer. It has collected a lot of samples and named most of them by the said woman. It starts to study an unusual octopus and makes some progress, but then something drastic happens, and the robot is facing some important choices. A pretty nice story, which could have been longer. ***½
Short Story: "The Desolate Void" by Jay Werkheiser
A woman has spent her life trying to find extraterrestrial life. Her parents had the same dream and even abandoned her while she was growing up to pursue that dream. Now she is in the Enceladus, moon of Saturn. A local man is more or less ordered to help her, but she is very determined and not too co-operative. ***
Novella: "We Side with the Free" by Gary Rinehart
The "Trojans" have sent an asteroid to Earth on collision course. A ship is sent to stop it. This story shows how the attempt is planned and accomplished, and not much more. I was waiting for some clever subverting twist at the end, but it did not come. The writing in itself was OK, but the story was too long for the content. ***-


Unknown said...

Hey, Tpi. Thanks for the nice words about my story "In the Absence of Instructions to the Contrary". I'm curious - when you say it could have been longer, what did you mean? Did you mean that there were parts that I could have expanded on, some things that were left unsaid that should have been spelled out more?


Frank Wu

tpi said...

Well, I liked the plot and writing and would have liked to read more of the same stuff. Mayby the end of the world could have been explained/examined a bit more, but mostly I just wanted more... :-)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Tpi. I appreciate the encouragement.

Yeah, I wanted to limit how much I said about what actually happened to blow up the world, because the story's all told from Karl's perspective, and he has no sources of information on what happened.

It's also kind of a smack at people who are so busy at their jobs (including some scientists) they have no interest in the bigger picture of what's going on in the world. Yeah, people who look up from their labbenches to see the world blow up, then go back to their experiments. Pisses me off. Like people who don't care about the most important US election in their lifetimes - which piss me off in some ways even more than people who vote for that freaky orange man.

There was a whole long section in the story that I jettisoned as I was writing - the time frame was initially a lot longer (hundreds of years), and some of the human survivors of earth's destruction had escaped to live underwater in the underground ocean of Titan. One of the things you don't think about is that Titan is full of organic compounds, toxic ones, and so would its ocean. So... Titan has water, which is good, but it's full of cyanide, which is bad. (Scientists have actually detected cyanide on Titan.) And the humans have been genetically engineered to tolerate and even require the cyanide to live. So when they come back to Earth, there is some tussling about who gets to determine the ecological fate of the planet and live on it.

As you can see, that storyline has nothing to do with octopuses or Dr. Adaline Franzen, so it got cut out entirely.

Maybe I can use it in a sequel to this story!

tpi said...

Looking forward to that sequel!

mnr said...

Hey tpi,

Thanks for reading "One Man's Dignity." I'm curious - did you read the companion story I wrote a few years ago - "Cup of Dirt". I wonder if the two stories would be stronger together.

Your thoughts?


tpi said...

Yes, I have read it and I rather enjoeyd it. I didn't remember it at the time I was reading the later story, but I see the connection.

mnr said...

I've been playing with writing a collection of stories set in that station. Your thoughts?