Saturday, September 14, 2019

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September-October 2019

Perhaps a bit below-average issue.

The Gorilla in a Tutu Principle or, Pecan Pie at Minnie and Earl's • novella by Adam-Troy Castro
A man who works on the moon sees Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel in space suits, enacting one of their sketches. A little while later he sees them again. What's going on? He asks help from Minnie and Earl, a very strange, possibly alien, couple living in a picket-fenced nice and cozy house in the middle of the lunar soil. A nice story which doesn’t make much logical sense, but is very good in spite of that. ***½
Awakening in the Anteroom of Heaven • short story by Brenda Kalt
Aliens have been defeated by humans during a war. A lot of damage has been caused in the alien homeworld. The aliens rescue some statues and bring them to a holy place where no humans all allowed, according to the peace treaty they have agreed on. There is something secret inside the statues. An okay story which would have been better with some back story. Who were the “bad guys” in the war? Who actually were the aggressors? Why did the war even happen? ***+
On Her Shoulders • novelette by Martin L. Shoemaker
An anomalous object is discovered near Jupiter and it eventually turns out to be an alien spaceship. The story loosely follows the woman who discovered it and her former mentor. Apparently, sending our own spacecraft to meet the aliens doesn’t interest the US government (or ANY other government at all, for that matters – a bit of an unrealistic scenario). An excellent take on “The Man who Sold the Moon”. The body of the story is good, but it might have needed a little more meat. Plus, the most interesting part is happening after the end of the story and between the scenes we were shown. ***½
Paradise Unbound • [Paradise (Edward M. Lerner)] • short story by Edward M. Lerner
Continues an earlier story, but takes place years or decades later. The ancient mother ship didn’t crash on the planet, but offered plenty of information about technology and there was a technological renaissance. Now, though, a giant asteroid is going to hit the planet and the technology level is not good enough to do anything about it. Then there is an unknown spaceship in orbit... The story is not as good as the earlier parts. The arrival of the spaceship just in time is, if anything, a huge coincidence. ***+
The Swarm • short story by Mario Milosevic
Microprobes are sent to a closest star (using a light sail powered by lasers, which are apparently located on the Earth’s surface – a lunatic idea, most likely impossible), but it will take decades to get a few pictures. One of the group goes into suspended animation to see the results. Was it worth it? A very short story with an open end. ***
The Waters of a New World • short story by Jennifer R. Povey
A spaceship has escaped a dying Earth. The water on a new planet has a strange contaminant which seems to be totally impossible to get rid off. It survives anything (even boiling and distilling? That wasn’t mentioned) and dissolves anything. A short story where the problem was solved “slightly” too conveniently (Martian soil kills the nanobacteria and they just happen to have several tons of it onboard). ***
News from an Alien World • short story by Sean Vivier
Something has happened in the USA (and apparently in the rest of the world, except Japan). A man, who works for a Japanese space agency, tries to live his American dream as his workgroup translates alien TV signals (which just happen to be from the end of their civilization - a million to one chance, surely?). A nice story which contrasts two civilizations. ***
A Family Rendezvous • short story by Brendan DuBois
A space shuttle containing tourists is on its way to an orbital hotel. Something goes wrong, but luckily there is a man on board who believes he can help. A problem-solving story with a seemingly contrived emergency and solution. ***
From So Complex a Beginning • short story by Julie Novakova
A technician is summoned to a planet where life has evolved very quickly, so quickly that it hints to artificial intelligence. When she is studying the animals on the planet, there is a glitch in the data, as if someone is censoring something. Who and why? Or is she just paranoid? An okay story, but the plot was a bit simplistic in some points and motivations were left unclear. ***
A Square of Flesh, A Cube of Steel • short story by Phoebe Barton
A girl doesn’t want to leave her home with her mother but is she ready to stay alone? Another story I didn’t get into at all and I didn’t relate with the character, who seemed to behave pretty erratically. ***-
I Dreamed You Were a Spaceship • short story by Ron Collins
An old man, a hero, muses over his past, his present and a new generation with new sorts of interests and lifestyle. A shortish bittersweet “story”. ***-
Astroboy and Wind • short story by J. M. McDermott [as by Joe M. McDermott]
There is an accident among construction crew members on another planet that makes the rest of group wonder what they will be doing in the future. A slice of life story, pretty good for that style which I usually am not a fan of. ***
Conventional Powers • [Troubleshooters] • novelette by Christopher L. Bennett
At a convention on superheroes there is some discord about what is a “real” superhero. A faction tries to hijack the convention and run the prestigious competition in such a way that the most powerful superheroes won’t have the edge they usually have. An average story with a stupid plotting. A very important invention is left at an unsafe place? The motivation of the “bad guys” is beyond strange: all that happens just to win a competition whose prize seems to be the only prestige? Why? However, I am not sure if I am over-analyzing it, but was there some “slight” commentary about the rabid/sad puppies affair in here somewhere? ***
The Singing City • short story by Michael F. Flynn
The son of an astronaut will command a mission into deep space. The astronaut muses over that. A bit of a boring story I didn’t get into. ***-
Molecular Rage • short story by Marie Bilodeau
A time scheduler of matter transportation beams is late for work. Again. He also goes back home late and it's not even the first time. In fact, it is so common that his wife leaves him. He is sacked from work too. He starts to look for what could be causing the delays. An "okay" story, a bit too much is spent on the intricacies of matter transportation beams. I wonder where and when the story is supposed to be happening: time is measured by seconds and minutes and the main character uses caffeine? He is an 'insect' and there are no humans in the world at all? ***
Trespass • novelette by Tony Ballantyne
A mercenary is asked to help on a sector which sticks to tradition and only uses things that work according to traditional physics which can be replicated by humans. They are considered to be backwards, as most people are used to alien tech (including FTL travel). Nevertheless, a man has discovered some unknown alien tech from a distant planet is lose on the sector, and he must be removed as soon as possible. It turns out that the human tech is pretty advanced too, but inertia-less travel is a bit more high-tech than it is common there... a very good and intriguing story about an interesting world. ***½
Road Veterinarian • novelette by Guy Stewart
A veterinarian is chosen to help on a top-secret project (I wonder why the army doesn’t even have a single capable vet of its own?). A bio-engineered highway has been started to walk to Canada which, in this future, is a hostile nation. A pretty stupid story, and flirting between the main characters doesn’t make it any better. ***-

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