Karl Schroeder. Queen of Candesce. Pt I of IV.
First part of a serialisation.
Amy Bechtel’s name against this story caused a horrid flashback for me, back to the April 2004 issue of Analog, specifically the cover. Normally having a cover illustration specific to your story would be a cause for celebration for an author, but that cover….
Shrugging that off, what of this story? Bechtel uses the technique of taking a situation and flip-flopping it, with the intent that the negative image will highlight something not seen in the usual image. Bechtel’s society is one in which the norm is to have Asperger’s Syndrome and other autistic spectrum disorders, able to do instant mathematical calculations, but unable to read facial expressions. The protagonist has a son, labelled ‘slow’ and unable to attend mainstream school, on account of not being able to handle maths. But she realises that he can read facial expressions, and her challenge is to ensure that he is not overly disadvantaged in the future.
And that’s essentially it – this premise is fleshed out over a few pages, but a story needs a bit more than just an initial premise to satisfy this reader.
David Bartell. Misquoting the Moon.
An earth-killer asteroid is closing in on our planet, and a lucky few have places on the far side of the moon from which they hope to hide from the worst of the impact. One such is Ted Hathaway, spending his time on the African veldt culling elephants (he’s rationalised the need to do this). He’s got a spare place on the Moon, with the intention of luring his ex-wife back into his arms. However, it transpires that she’d rather expire on Earth than living on the moon with this elephant-shootin’ hunter, and Ted offers the spare place to his right-hand man Hendrik Izaaks (hunters of Ted’s ilk seem to have right-hand men, perhaps on account of it getting lonely out on the veldt).
But the dilemma for Hendrik is that he’s got a wife and a child with HIV. Should he take the opportunity Ted offers, which offers not only a personal future, but a future for his mixed-race DNA, which will otherwise, like the elephants, not survive the impact?
Michael Shara and Jack McDevitt. Cool Neighbours.
Kristi Lang and Greg Cooper appeared in ‘Lighthouse’ (Analog April 2006) in which a mountainside moment of epiphany had Kristi make a conceptual scientific leap. Some time later both are in Earth orbit, with Greg keeping a close secret to his chest. However, the secret may remain hidden as he discovers that a previously unknown level of hard radiation riding a gravity wave is heading their way, about to kill him, and potentially kill others – Kristi has to take steps to save tourists nearby, with Greg unsaveable, despite her best endeavours. However, the story ends on an upbeat note, as Kristi reveals (as is her wont) her/Greg’s scientific blockbuster – in her own teasing way … drumroll ….. a near-neighbour brown dwarf with planets showing signs of life.
C. Sanford Lowe and G. David Nordley. The Small Pond.
In ‘Kremer’s Limit’ (Analog Jul/Aug 2006) feisty scientist Hilda Kremer overcomes political opposition to ensure the Black Hole project goes forward.
‘Imperfect Gods’ (Analog Dec 2006) saw Hilda arrive on Groombridge 34A and have to overcome political opposition to ensure that the Black Hole project goes further forward.
In this story, Hilda Kremer’s feisty scientific sister has to overcome political opposition to, er, ensure that the Black Hole Project goes further forward.
Having overcome that opposition, however, Liz has to decide whether to risk all in saving a colleague who is onplanet with a big asteroid about to hit. This colleague is a lover, whom she used to ‘achieve her own erotic nirvana’. I can understand the writers being more comfortable with the kind of language that was doubtless risque 50 years ago, but it feels a bit outdated for 2007!
There’s a stereotyped Australian, (g’day mate), some awkward co-incidences (the captain of the spaceship she’s travelling on is the brother of someone she’s just had a run-in with), and some heavy-handed male scientists using their position to get their wicked way with women, and women who comply with these requirements fairly readily, which just don’t sit right in a story set 200 years hence.
Nothing to trouble the award panels, but if you’re in the Analog comfortzone, then this issue will keep you there.