Analog, April 2009

Adam-Troy Castro. Gunfight on Farside.

A sequel to ‘Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earls’, worrying, all the way back from 2001 (eight years!!!). That story didn’t grab me that much, but was a Nebula nominee in 2004.

This satisfies a bit more. Castro returns to the setting some years later, and intertwines the unreliable nature of myth as evinced by the Gunfight at OK Corral, with a lunar shootout that has now entered legend, and consequently departed some way from the truth. Castro’s mention of a nude musical version of Gunfight is probably even scarier than Ian McShane’s Al Swearingen from Deadwood.

There’s some First Contact in there as well, and the main beef for me is the cosy ending in which the now elderly combatants in the lunar duel are able to live out a long retirement in an alien land of milk and honey as twere.

Eric James Stone. The Final Element.

In the short biog that goes with the story, Stone mentions being brought up on Golden Age SF, and having fond memories for The Early Asimov collections.

I too have fond memories of that collection, which I read in the early 70s in my early teens. And thusly (if I make speak in Good Doctor mode) Stone provides a story that could have been penned by Asimov.

A Stradivarius has been duplicated in a nano-assembler. It’s an illegal act, and the culprit has been found. But how to determine which of the two is the original. The tech guy from the nano company is expecting it to easy, as his kit can ID a nano-assembled item in a trice. However, in this case, the two are identical. Hmmm.

The tech guy guesses what may have happened, and gets the perp in and tries a technique those of you familiar with Asimov may recognise as the ‘Marsport without Hilda’ method : will the perp stand by and watch the original be destroyed? (Or a slight variation as, as you might guess, both are indeed fakes, and the perps lack of concern at either being destroyed confirms).

H.G. Stratmann. The Invasion.

More light fun, as the President of the USA is the first to turn on an ansible communicator, plans for which have been received from far-distant aliens.

The Pres and senior colleagues all have their laptops turned on as the first messages begin to arrive, and it takes them a little while to realise that what they are getting is the equivalent of Internet spam email – actually, it’s not the equivalent of Internet spam email it’s pretty much the same.

Worse still, the communication comes with a virus, and before it can be stopped, there’s an alien virus loose, intent on taking control of humanity. Fortunately for us, it doesn’t get very far before those already in control of humanity give it short shrift.

Mary Turzillo. Steak Tartare and the Cats of Gari Babakin.

Even more light fun, as visitors from Earth are intent on clearing out the cats on Gari Babakin Station. Turns out the cats have been the vector for a virus that has had an impact on the station members, sending men further up the autustic spectrum, and the women…

Enjoyment of the story will be dependent on whether you can engage with dialogue like : “That’s slander, punk. First of all, impugning our personalities is tantamount to admitting that you want to enslave everybody on our station, take our proprietary secrets for wine and cheese making, and then wipe us out.”

Mark Rich. Foe.

More light fun. Foe being Face of Efficiency, the nickname of the post for which the latest in a long line of incumbents is newly arrived from Earth on Mars.

Can Jay Wirth carve out a career for himself in the hardworking Martian colony. Turns out that in fact everybody is working hard – too hard. He decides to buck the system and encourages some ineffeciences, but there is a perverse consequence, and he finds that he is able to get the colonist on a more even keel, as the focus on efficiences in the hard, early days of the colony are no longer appropriate.

Conclusion.

A collection of gentle retro fun, the equivalent of a long hot bath after a tiring day.

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