Analog – May 2012

Analog Science Fiction and Fact for May 2012.

May’s edition of Analog contained Part IV of Triggers by Robert J. SawyerTriggers worked on the premise that a small group of people, including the President of the United States, were caught in an accident where their memories were accidentally linked in a chain (Person A could access Person B’s memories, Person B could access Person C’s memories etc).

The story had an interesting premise, with several sub-plots to assist in holding the readers attentions (who shot the President? Would one of the characters escape an abusive relationship? etc). I enjoyed the writing and was following along with the story to the point where I was anticipating each instalment. However, I’ve got the say that part IV took the whole plot sideways. I didn’t really feel that the ending in any way fit with the setup of the story. So, excellent writing but a disappointing ending.

But It Won’t Set You Free by Tracy Canfield was a fun story where human’s are the “aliens” secretly running tests on a sentient species (including an unfortunate anatomical mixup that results in an anal probe situation).

Also in this issue:

Creative Commons License
This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

Analog – April 2012 – review

Analog Science Fiction and Fact for April 2012.

The Most Invasive Species by Susan Forest is a very interesting piece exploring the application of human cultural bias onto alien species. With this kind of story there is always the danger of the end result being a little preachy, but a good choice of protagonist and solid story telling allowed Ms Forest to avoid that fate.

Ecce Signum by Craig DeLancey has at its heart a couple of very interesting ideas – an extrapolation of mobile technology to the point where people don’t really even need to speak to each other anymore, and the idea of genetically engineering people to take a longer term view of life on the planet. This was a well written story, with good pacing and an interesting future world painted in enough detail to provide great food for thought. As is my custom, I won’t say anything about the end of the novel except to speculate that the story must have been influenced by the current world obsession with Wikileaks!

I liked the twist in A Delicate Balance by Kevin J. Anderson, and thought the world of the restrictive colony environment was very well realised.

To Serve Aliens (Yes, It’s a Cookbook) by Eric James Stone was very funny. All hail our elephant overlords.

Also in this issue:

Creative Commons License
This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

Analog – March 2012 – review

Analog Science Fiction and Fact for March 2012.

The Ediacarian Machine by Craig DeLancey was a well written piece exploring the means by which an ancient, alien civilisation might explore the galaxy. The idea behind the story was interesting and some of the ideas around future technology trends were engaging.

Mother’s Tattoos by Richard A. Lovett contained an interesting exploration of where government surveillance and advertising might go into the future. The body as a billboard seems to be a bit of a theme in a few short stories I’ve read lately. The main character in this story was a bit irritating, but then I suspect he was supposed to be.

Upon Their Backs by Kyle Kirkland also had a big brother theme. I particularly liked the conceit of “just in time” identity creation – the idea that government surveillance is so ubiquitous that an agent can just mention some details and government computers will automatically fill in the blanks and create a full identity on the fly.

Also in this issue:

Creative Commons License
This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

Analog – January/February 2012 – review

The January/February 2012 edition of Analog is one of their special double editions.

A new serialised story was started in this edition, Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer. The premise is interesting enough – a chance event causes a set of people in a hospital to suddenly gain access to the ongoing memories of another person. One of the people impacted is the President of the United States. The story is competently executed, but as you’d imagine this first instalment is mostly set up. I’ll probably save making any review comments until the entire story is completed.

I enjoyed the style of Ninety Thousand Horses by Sean McMullen, with its steampunk sensibility and an interesting protagonist.

Project Herakles by Stephen Baxter is one of the novellas in this edition. It tells the story of an alternate history 1960s United Kingdom where a newspaper magnate orchestrates a coup. There are also slightly infeasible giants involved. Interesting premise and the writing is good, but I couldn’t seem to willingly suspend my disbelief on the giants for long enough to really get into the story.

Doctor Alien and the Spindles of Infinity by Rajnar Vajra was the other novella. I enjoyed the core story, but there were a couple of info dumping sections that I found a little distracting. Otherwise a reasonable read.

Both novellas were stories that followed on from previously published stories in Analog. Readers who have read the previous stories might get more from this issue.

Also in this month’s edition was:

  • Humanity by Proxy by Mark Niemann-Ross
  • An Interstellar Incident by Catherine Shaffer
  • Listen Up, Nitwits by Jack McDevitt
  • Faster than a Speeding Photon by Edward M. Lerner
  • Return of the Zombie Sea Monster by Michael F. Flynn

Analog – December 2011 – review

My favourite story of this issue was The Impossibles by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, based on the premise that Earth has entered into a series of treaties with alien races that mean that Earth citizens are subject to alien laws when in alien territory. The story is told from the point of view of a young lawyer serving time as a defender in the InterSpecies Court to pay off her student loans.

The story was well written, but I particularly liked the premise of attempting to navigate the nightmare that occurs when multiple, fundamentally different legal systems intersect. The idea that Earth governments would give up on fringe citizens in order to get advantageous trade deals was sadly plausible. The story gave a good sense of the frenetic pace required to operate in that world through the eyes of the protagonist, Kerrie.

I also enjoyed Not for Ourselves Alone by Charles E. Gannon. Humanity is in retreat, attacked by a species known as the Arat Kur. The Arat Kur have a super weapon that is cutting through Earth based defences like they weren’t there. The story is about a group of military specialists who have been tasked with intercepting the Arat Kur fleet at Jupiter and trying to get enough data to understand the weapon so that humanity can formulate a defence.

I liked the premise and the multi-national nature of the military force (there was even a New Zealander!). The story is told from the perspective of a Russian tactical specialist. Very interesting mystery and the story was constructed well – without a schmaltzy ending.

Also in this months edition were:

  • Ray of Light by Brad R. Torgersen
  • Turning It Off by Susan Forest
  • Freudian Slipstream by Brad Aiken
  • Hidden by Kyle Kirkland
  • Art For Splendor’s Sake by Dave Creek


Analog – November 2011 – review

With Unclean Hands by Adam-Troy Castro was an interesting novella about cultural misunderstanding between alien species. The main character, Andrea Cort, has apparently appeared in previous Analog published stories that I haven’t read, although this story comes first chronologically. I enjoyed the writing, but there was a lot of extra detail obviously designed to give some more back story for the Andrea Cort character for people that have read and enjoyed the previous stories.

I also enjoyed Chumbolone by Bill Johnson, a story about a West Wing style political operatives having to make some odd deals with some strange characters in order to get his candidate over the line. I liked the premise and the reference to Babbage’s Analytical Engine was a fun aside (a friend did his honours thesis on Babbage’s Analytical Engine, so I always enjoy a reference).

The Boneless One by Alex Nevala-Lee was well written and frankly a little disturbing. I won’t say too much, but it’s a good little mystery with some horror themes.

Other stories in this edition included:

  • Dig Site by Jack McDevitt
  • The Buddy System by Don D’Ammassa
  • Rocket Science by Jerry Oltion
  • Ian, Isaac and John by Paul Levinson

Analog – October 2011 – review

I enjoyed the last part of the serial Energized by Edward M. Lerner (part 4 of 4). As I mentioned in my post on last month’s edition, this was a story set in an oil-deprived future which had some interesting exploration of alternative technologies. The last part was a pretty much all action/resolution, but I was happy with how it was all concluded. It did bring together several strands from earlier parts (including some stuff that seemed a little superfluous at the time).

I also enjoyed reading Of Night by Janet Catherine Johnston, a science fiction ghost story. The writing was good and I find myself getting into stories of near future space exploration of late, so this one appealed to me. Besides it is nearly Halloween – we should all read a scary story or two.

The Lycanthropic Principle by Carl Frederick explored some interesting notions of where use of the internet and the blurring of your online identity with your personal identity might go in the future. It was an intriguing short story.

Also in this month’s edition was:

  • The Bullfrog Radio Astronomy Project by Brad R. Torgersen
  • The Last of Lust by Jerry Oltion
  • The Sock Problem by Alastair Mayer


Analog – September 2011 – review

This month’s Analog is a bit of a mixed bag. I’ve been enjoying the serialised novella  Energized by Edward M. Lerner. It is part III of IV this month and the race by Russian sponsored terrorists to use a prototype microwave power transferring satellite as a weapon of mass destruction gathers pace. There is some interesting exploration of potential alternative energy sources when the world runs short of usable oil. The action in space is more interesting than on the ground, but this story has kept me engaged all the way through and I’m looking forward to the finale in next month’s issue.

I also enjoyed Asteroid Monte by Craig DeLancey – a short space detective story (but then I’ve always been a sucker for a space detective story). It’s a pretty straight forward and quickly resolved mystery with perhaps slightly too much time on the setup given the length of the overall story, but still I enjoyed it.

The other stories in the issue were OK, but none of them stood out for me. I don’t know that I would strongly recommend them but none of them were offensively bad or anything.

  • Therapeutic Mathematics and the Physics of Curve Balls by Gray Rineheart
  • Helix of Friends by Carl Frederick
  • Hostile Environment by Emily Mah
  • The Chaplain’s Assistant by Brad R. Torgersen