Analog, December 2007

C.W. Johnson. Icarus Beach.

A young woman is part of a crew whose ship specialises in taking super-rich passengers deep into supernovas, there to ride the shockwaves of the exploding star. Her burgeoning relationship with one of the paying passengers is threatened when the lovers’ rich father finds out, and by the behaviour of one of the siblings of her lover in unconscionable.

Sarah K. Castle. Kukulcan.

A student wins a scientific prize to enable him to draw on his Mayan ancestry to send a non-zero message to the stars. What fortune then that the aliens which visit are avian in nature and there are parallels with the history on which he can draw, although as they aliens also have an interest in sacrificial offerings, things are not that straightforward.

Lesley L. Smith. Anything Would Be Worth It.

A mother mourning the loss of her family in a car crash realises that if she could only go back in time she could warn herself not to go out in the car on that fateful night. And, erm, she goes back in term to warn herself not to go out in the car on that fateful night.

Jerry Oltion. Salvation.

There are plenty of Analog stories in which science and politics, often academic politics, are played off against each other, to varying effect. Here Oltion addresses the tension between science and religion, and rehearses a number of the arguments in the ‘story’, to not very great effect. A humanist scientist gets funding to develop a time machine from a religious source, and goes back with the main funder to prove/disprove the existence of Jesus. Having learned Aramaic and Latin, the two duly pop back in time and find that in fact that Jesus did exist, but makes not claim to the origins that are subsequently laid upon him, and that he is really simply a community activist with socialist leanings.

The two get into a dialog with him, faithfully recorded by Oltion, which gives Jesus food for thought. And in returning to their own time, they find that things have changed, although exactly how is not revealed. This latter really misses the only chance to redeem an otherwise creaky story, as it simply rehashes some current debate and doesn’t take the opportunity to extrapolate the changes that they pair have instigated, and isn’t extrapoloting changes what SF is fundamentally about.

Robert R. Chase. “Domo Arigato”, Says Mr. Roboto.

A commercial space-race to grab passing asteroids sees an American ship with a solo human crew going head to head with a Sino-robotic mission. Can the AI in the other vessel really claim the asteroid, as such a claim requires a crewed landing? The question of the humanity of the AI in the robot is called into question, as is, eventually, the humanity of those back in Japan who leave the robot to fritz under a solar flare, and the American to prove his humanity by accepting the humanity of the AI, and returning to Earth with it, rather than leaving it on the asteroid.

David W. Goldman. Reunion.

A second story in Analog this year, and a more substantial one than his hot-tub story from Jan/Feb. It’s one of the most enjoyable stories I’ve read in Analog for quite a while. It starts off with a bogstandard ‘struggling detective gets commission they don’t really want but has to do it because they are short of money’, but Goldman sets is against an interesting political background of a repressive government, which cracked down hard, really hard, on the opposition some years ago. The detective in question is one of the opposition, and as the story unfolds we hear how she was affected by the brutal clampdown.

It’s also a little by the numbers in terms of ‘tec fiction : an initial piece of information is gleaned from someone, who shortly thereafter is found dead, and there are brothers and sisters involved, and a denouement with characters popping out through doors at the appropriate time, having heard some of the story developed.

But the story had a depth of character and of background that is slightly more than is often the case in Analog, and it rises above these issues.

Conclusion.

Goldman in particular furnishes the goods this issue.

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