Analog, December 2008

David Bartell. Misquoting the Star.

A followup to ‘Misquoting the Moon’ (March 2007) in which one Hendrik Isaacs got a coveted place on a shuttle to the moon colony, thus being one of the select few to avoid the planet-killer asteroid imminently due to impact on Earth.

The main protagonist in this story is the leader of one of the small lunar colonies, which have to sit and watch the big impact, and worry that impact debris could land on them. We follow her journey in dealing with the destruction of all but a handful of humanity (enough for a novel in itself!)

However, there’s another dimension, in that Hendrik’s son Isaac is in fact a member of the colony, having taken his father’s place (and there’s a lot of potential in how this dimension would impact on the rest of the colony). But there’s more : Hendrik has TB – not having been medically tested as he took his father’s place (which could have been a story in itself : do you put the person who threatens the community out through the airlock?). But, holy semolians, there’s more!

Isaacs is also is HIV-positive. But that isn’t difficult enough to handle, as he has to struggle with a choice between a whole blood transfusion to flush out the HIV, and ‘lose’ his genetic identity in doing so (due to his pride in his racial background), or face death and/or exclusion in the colony. The conversation between the leader and a GP which is along the lines of : ‘Is there a cure for AIDS?’ ‘Hmmm, I think there may be, let me check’, doesn’t seem robust enought for Analog.

So there’s a whole heap of potential in the story, but it needs a longer story to do it justice. Outside of all this, one thing that does hit home is the finding of a part of a human body on the moon – blown all the way from Earth.

Jason Sanford. Where Away You Fall.

Sanford has had a couple of impressively imaginative stories in Interzone recently, and in reviewing one I mentioned that the biographic note that referred to an upcoming story in Analog was intriguing, as the Interzone stories were very un-Analogy.

An indeed Sanford has in fact produced a very Analog-y type story, a more traditional ‘protagonist in a fix – how can they get out of it’ tale. A young woman is ascending into the upper edges of Earth’s atmosphere, to fix a low-orbit low-tech satellite. However, there are political and religion dimensions at play. She is a ‘Seeker’, a member of a religious community which largely eschews technology, and the more militant of whom are willing to use violence, and to sacrifice themselves for their cause. And it transpires that whilst she believes she has been following her life-long dream to reach for that which she seeks (getting into space), other members of her religious community have used her as a pawn in their plans, and she is in fact carrying a payload which has a more sinister application.

Quick thinking and bravery are required, should she decide to resist their planned role for her.

The politics and religous elements add an extra dimension to a type of story which would often rely simply on the technical conundrum and the extrication from the threat it poses, but even so the characters are a little cardboardy.

Joe Schembrie. Moby Digital.

A VR immersion of Melville’s Moby Dick is infested with a virus, smarter than the average virus, which is preventing those immersed in the sim from exiting. Should they fail to get out before the sim itself runs out of juice, they will be lost forever. Can the protagonist get them out of this technical conundrum before the deadline using his tech smarts and knowledge of Moby Dick?

Robert J. Sawyer. Wake.

Second of four installments, a lengthy installment.

Conclusion.

As the novel installment takes up so much space, there’s not a whole lot of short SF to get your teeth into, all of which is the traditional Analog, with nothing really standing out from similar stories appearing over many years.

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