Sunday, January 7, 2018

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January-February 2018

A pretty nice issue with some very good stories. There seems to be a light theme of artificial intelligence running through some of the stories.

The Journeyman: Through Madness Gap, Michael F. Flynn, Novelette
Continuing from an earlier story. Two friends work as mercenaries, and train troops for an upcoming battle. There is a pass between mountains which would enable a more efficient troop deployment, but the pass is supposedly cursed. There is a lot of banter between characters, but little science fictional or fantasy content until the end. The story belongs to a subgenre I am not a fan of - a colony world which has fallen to medieval level. I haven’t been a great fan of any other installments in this series, and I didn’t really care for this one either. Solid writing, though. ***
Hobson’s Choices, Mary A. Turzillo, Short Story
A family moves to a new housing complex, Goodenought Housing, which promises satisfaction through offering fewer choices - in everything. Why would you need several different car brands, if you can choose from five different good enough ones? That describes the philosophy in everything. A nice, pretty amusing story. ***½
Ten and Ten, Alan Dean Foster, Short Story
A scientist tries to teach sign language to a cuttlefish, with very poor results. Her grant is running out, as is the short lifespan of the fish. A well-written story, but it is too short and the main point was lacking. ***
One to Watch, Andrew Barton, Short Story
An expedition to a tiny moon finds something that appears to be a relic of another spacefaring species. There is a short period when the leader of the expedition thinks about suppressing the find for some philosophical, but stupid reasons. A short and fairly stupid story. **
Home On the Free Range, Holly Schofield, Short Story
People are farming on a new colony planet. They have invested heavily in their farm, and if there is trouble they could lose everything. When all seasons last several Earth years, and apparently there have been no pre-colonazation studies done at all - unbelievably stupid - there is a good chance of problems. Writing and even plotting was fairly good, but the stupidity was a bit too much: surely there would be observations even for one local year before bringing in the colonists? ***+
Endless City, David Gerrold, Novelette
Someone comes to see a detective in a virtual world. She wants that the detective solves a murder – hers - happening in the real world at the same time. The murder turns out to be very gruesome and she turns out to be a he – just the avatar was female. The murderer must have had extreme skill to be able to do what he did, and it may even be that the one who tries to solve the murder is in danger. A very good sci-fi detective story, with good writing and an interesting spin. ****-
When the Aliens Stop To Bottle, Ian Watson, Short Story
Totally invincible aliens have arrived and invaded Earth. All weapons stopped working, missiles imploded, and every country surrendered. Except North-Korea, which doesn’t exist anymore. South-Korea now has a border with China. The aliens capture and bottle people. What is going on and why? A pretty good story with only partial answers. ***+
Two Point Three Children, Marissa Lingen, Short Story
Parents have a custody battle of their AI child. There are accusations of neglect and so on, but there are some choices which are possible for AIs, but not for real children. A pretty good story, but too short. ***
Air Gap, Eric Cline, Short Story
Someone is going to a compound with ancient 21st century technology. Cars run by internal combustion and weapons are firing actual bullets! Everything is behind extremely high-class security, but without any computers. There are a few surprises. An excellent story. ****½
The Dissonant Note, Jeremiah Tolbert, Short Story
Sisterhood of AIs, or descendants of uploaded persons, are studying a planet. Everyone is a copy of her mother, but there is some variance thrown in. One “low-level” daughter aspires for more and conspires to get involved in more interesting research. An OK story, but the backstory might have been more detailed. It wasn’t easy to get into it.***-
Blurred Lives, Adam-Troy Castro, Novella
Continuing from an earlier story. two high-class spies, a man and a woman, travel together to try and find some of their former employers, as they want revenge for a few things they have done. The spies have a strange love-hate - almost sadomasochistic - relationship. They find one such man, who seems to perform cruel scientific experiments on people. He is dying from old age and might be willing to give the names of the people at a higher level. But there is a challenge before that. A fairly good story, but not as good as the previous instalment. I had a hard time understanding the motivations of the characters, especially the female’s. The writing was pretty good. ***½


Rafael Ontivero said...

Interesting review, but you forgot the main story: The Quantum Magician!

tpi said...

It is a serial. I usually don’t review (or even read) unfinished serials. I’ll wait untill I have access to all parts.

Rafael Ontivero said...

Thanks, man!

Before start reading the number, I wait for your review.. :-D