Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November-December 2017

A little worse issue than the previous, but there were a few pretty nice stories.

Hybrid, Blue, by Firelight • novelette by Bill Johnson
Time travelers from different time periods and alternative futures hang together. Sometimes someone might disappear when his future turns out to be impossible. There is a lot of scheming and discussing. I didn't look into the story - just I didn't get into any previous installments of this series. **
Keepsakes • novelette by Kenneth Schneyer
People can make copies of their mind which represents the way they think at that moment. As people change when they get older, it is often interesting to go back and see how one thought when he/she was younger. One woman talks with a simulation of her five-year-old self. The little girl version says that her father killed her mother. The adult version doesn’t remember anything like that. Was the memory repressed? Can the copy be trusted? Can what the copy says be used on a trial as a testimony? An interesting story, but it was partly spoiled by totally unnecessary love subplot of two people investigating the alleged crime. There was more than enough plot without it. ***+
Laminated Moose Zombies and Other Road Maintenance Problems • short story by Michael F. Flynn and Dennis M. Flynn
A fungal infection turns everything dead into zombies. They aren’t very dangerous, though, as they move extremely slowly and clumsily and they invade only dead bodies. Or do they? There are strict and very bureaucratic rules how they should be dealt with. Why is the bureaucracy so bad? Not bad, writing is nice but very short, so there isn’t enough plot. ***
Downsized • short story by Bud Sparhawk
A who lives on a luxurious retirement home on a space station gets a notion that he must move to a smaller apartment as his wife died and so he isn’t allocated to have so much space anymore. He tries to appeal to the authorities of the station, but they are not very sympathetic. The old apartment is filled with memories, should he let them go? A good well written and moving story. ***½
New Teeth • short story by James Sallis
A man hunts changed people. Some kind of presence invades humans and takes over their mind. Or so he at least believes. There was little backstory and fairly little real plot and the story goes for the mood. I didn't get it, and it was too scene like for my taste. **½
Luscinia • short story by Robert Reed
The world richest woman lives in an alley pushing old child carriage (filled with the best automatic safety gear money can buy). She doesn't really need anything, but her smart money accumulates itself. A short story (or a political statement) which was ok. ***-
Fermi's Slime • short story by Tom Jolly
An expedition to another solar system finds only planets filled with slime. It appears to have very stable DNA, and the mutation rate is negligible, so there hasn't been any evolution. Are all other worlds in the universe filled with single cellular slime colonies? A short but okay story. ***+
Quirks • short story by Marie Vibbert
Skills can be easily transferred to other people. That has led to heavy unionizing, where unions protect their knowledge. But as there is always some "leaking" of talent to the public domain, it is becoming harder and harder to get jobs with a decent pay. A man gets an offer for his skills. A bit too short, but a decent story. ***
Time Travel Is Only for the Poor • short story by S. L. Huang
Poor people are offered an investment. They are supposed to make a small monetary investment, even cents, and then they put in suspended animation until that investment is grown by compounded interest to a real fortune. And that isn't exactly a voluntary practice. One man fights back and he is supported by a lawyer working pro bono. A pretty good but depressing story. ***+
Papoose Lake • short story by Richard A. Lovett
A man has a friend who is heavily on conspiracy theories. So much that he is very irritating company. He has another friend who is an expert on experimental neurology. Would it be possible to influence thought patterns? A bit short, but good story. ***½
Hot Air • short story by Igor Teper
A scientist has come to China. She meets an old friend, who worked on a similar defense project on the Chinese side. They have a common past and share a secret. A good non-linear story. ***½
Kindle No Flame • short story by Stephen R. Loftus-Mercer
A researcher goes to Oxford library, soon after American newspapers have encountered strange problems with paper. Nicely written story, but I wonder what would have been motivation for such bug. ***+
Two Hours at Frontier • short story by Sean McMullen
Four people wake up in android bodies. They were on a way to study a strange artifact on the fringes of the solar system. It turns out five thousand years have gone and the Earth is silent on all bands. And they then spend two hours arguing about extremely stupid things, like the inability of getting children if you are an android. Like that would be the most important thing in that situation? A fairly stupid story which discusses all the non-interesting points of the setting and glosses over the more relevant things. A nice twist at the end makes the story slightly better. ***
Reentry • short story by Brendan DuBois
A three-man mission has been sent to an asteroid. An accident happens which kills two of three member and damages the ship. The return will take well over thousand days. It is a long time to be alone. The survivor is recuperating in a hospital. The company which sent him on the mission is taking care of him- but not out of kindness. A good story even if the company was unreasonably evil. ***
Weaponized • short story by Jay O'Connell
A man and a woman have dated for a while, they are falling in love. Every time they have sex, she checks something from her phone. A pretty nice, but short story. ***
Housekeeping 100 XP • short story by Brenta Blevins
A technician who repairs the malfunctions of smart houses, has to take her grandmother with her to work. There is a bit of a generation gap and the job in question is hard. A pretty average story. ***-
And Then They Were Gone • short story by Ian Creasey
The rich and famous parents of an eighteen years old girl, tell her that they are going to upload their minds to the virtual world. The girl has mostly been neglected by the parents and she has issues. Will her scars ever heal? An excellent story which could have been longer. ****-
How Val Finally Escaped from the Basement • novelette by Scott Edelman
A man inherits a house from his uncle. He finds an imprisoned alien in its cellar. The alien gives humanity all the technological and medical secrets anyone could have hoped. The man becomes hated and despised as his uncle apparently delayed the revelations. A bitter man whose father was killed a little before the revelations, imprisons him ( I didn't get that point at all - why anyone would blame him? It doesn't make any sense). But then there is a twist. A good, well written and enjoyable story. ****-
Native Seeds • novella by Catherine Wells
There has been a catastrophe – first there has been widespread famine, and then vast flooding and almost everything has been destroyed. Two groups have survived: a group which is descendants of scientist who have lived inside a mountain, and a group which is apparently descendants of Native Americans. Both are small, and just surviving. They encounter. Should the “wilds” move to the mountain? Could they even be supported? Do they even want to move? And both groups are almost too small to survive from the genetic point of view. A very good story, there are nice possibilities for both prequels and sequels. ****-

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