Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, March-April 2017

A pretty good double-issue, especially the longer stories were pretty good.

Nexus • novella by Michael F. Flynn
A male time traveler meets an immortal woman. They had met before, centuries ago. The time traveler is convinced that the woman is another time traveler and the woman is convinced that he is another immortal. Meanwhile, a secret alien society is meeting below the town. Also meanwhile, an alien insectoid creature is repairing its space ship to return to home to summon an invading force, while another scifi trope or two are also happening. All of the plot lines came together, eventually. I expected the story to turn to metafiction at some point, with so many clichés in the same story, but the ending was fairly satisfying, nevertheless. ****
Europa's Survivors • novelette by Marianne J. Dyson
A woman who has cancer arrives on Jupiter’s moon, Europa, to study a newly-found bacterial colony. She is pretty frail, but she is planning to spend her last years finding out if the bacteria are really from Europa, or if they are just a contamination from the Earth. There are some problems, and most of the inhabitants of the colony end up getting a fairly heavy dose of radiation. The story is pretty slow moving, with not much happening, and with a not-too-plausible ending. There was another story, with some similarities, just a few issues ago, about a bacterial colony on Europa, and I had to check to see if they were connected. Apparently they were not. ***-
Eli's Coming • short story by Catherine Wells
A man goes to the past in order to kill his stepfather, who he hates. He has already tried twice but, at both times, he had failed for unusual reasons. This time he will succeed! He does, but not in the way that he was expecting. A bit on the short side, but a fairly nice story. ***
Time Heals • short story by James C. Glass
A man who organizes trips to the past, goes to the past himself, even though there has been problems lately with the accuracy of the time drops. He is stranded decades or centuries away from the time that he was aiming for and is captured by a Jewish tribe that is ambushed by the Romans. He knows, from history, that there will be no survivors. Not bad story, but the background is pretty scanty. Otherwise, the story works fairly well. ***+
Shakesville • short story by Adam-Troy Castro and Alvaro Zino-Amaro
A man’s house is filled with different versions of himself from different timelines. Some are pretty similar to him, but some of the others have had very different lives. There is some event coming, which will have a profound effect to all of their timelines – what is it? A fairly open ended story, interesting though. ***-
Host • novelette by Eneasz Brodski
A school kid, who lives in a colony located on the moon of Jupiter, cuts school with his friend. They enjoy some typical teenage vices, like light shoplifting, while the colony is invaded by zombie-like creatures that spread a “contagion” by touch and bite. The colony is falling down – should they kill themselves? A bit on the short side, the background was a bit superficial, and there wasn’t time to gain a real bond with the protagonists. There were hints about the real meaning of the disease, in the interludes among the main action, but the story ended a bit too soon to really find out what was going on. ***
The Snatchers • short story by Edward McDermott
A retrieval team is sent to the past to save Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, before his plane crash. There is more than a little trouble, as the time stream fights to remain intact. A shortish, but very good, story with interesting characters. ***+
Unbearable Burden • short story by Gwendolyn Clare
The first AIs have been created. They have some limitations built in and they get bored. But they start to work on their own programming and one of them has a hidden agenda. A short, bittersweet story – perhaps a slightly longer form might have been better, as there really wasn’t an emotional connection to anyone/anything in the story. ***
Grandmaster • short story by Jay O'Connell
A female author in Paris gets a strange visitor from the future: a young woman who adores her writing. I thought I knew who the author was, but some details don’t match. She wasn’t writing science fiction at the time. I am bit baffled by the story, I didn’t get the point of it. **½
Alexander's Theory of Special Relativity • short story by Shane Halbach
A man sends his wife to the future, while testing his new time machine. There is a slight problem and he isn’t able to return his wife until 10 minutes have passed. However, it was eleven years for her, and she isn’t too happy to return. A pretty good, but short, story. ***+
Concerning the Devastation Wrought by the Nefarious Gray Comma and Its Ilk: A Men in Tie-Dye Adventure • short story by Tim McDaniel
Men in tie-dyed shirts attack a well-tended garden. There is a reason, but it's more stupid than anyone could guess. A probability zero story, which is longer than usual and not branded as such. Too stupid for my taste, the humor didn’t work for me. **
Ecuador vs. the Bug-Eyed Monsters • short story by Jay Werkheiser
Aliens “invite” the soccer World Cup Final to their space station. As no one has seen them, other than their ships, no one wants to decline the invitation. Since the “gravity” there is caused by rotation, the Coriolis forces cause some surprising effects. For some strange reason, there is a woman player among the men. The description of the game takes far too much space but, otherwise, it's a pretty nice story. ***+
The Human Way • novelette by Tony Ballantyne
A soldier is studying an empty planet. It has the entire infrastructure: roads, houses, cars, and even shops filled with merchandise as nanotech has built it to be ready for human habitation. For some reason, the planet has been more or less forgotten. The planet is supposed to have no one there, but the soldier encounters a young woman, with two children in tow. A pretty good story, with a nice high-tech setting. The ending was perhaps slightly hurried, but otherwise a very good and entertaining story. ***½
Plaisir d'Amour • novella by John Alfred Taylor
A sociologist moves to an independent space colony/station to do a sociological/anthropological study about the function of the colony. The inhabitants are slightly-modified humans who are adapted to a very low gravity environment. The colony, with its fairly utopian life, is seen through the eyes of the sociologist. He makes friends, and even finds love, but there cannot be any lasting relationship. A very good storyline, there wasn't really much of plot, but the writing was so good, and the characters and the world were so interesting, that it didn't matter. ****

Proofreading by eangel.me.

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