Analog, May 2009

Adam Troy-Castro. Among the Tchi.

A novelist finds his ego suddenly deflated when arriving on-planet to find that not only is he not the only Writer in Residence, he is one in a long, long line of writers who have signed up to a year-long contract.

Worst still, the alien hosts take a perverse delight in humiliating their guests, in pointing out to the nth degree the faults they find in human writing.

Can he put a stop to the rot, and turn the tables on the hosts? You betcha. (Mind you the means by which he does it isn’t rocket science, making you wonder just why all the other authors hadn’t used that strategy).

Alexis Glynn Latner. Quickfeather.

Two stories for the price of one!

Latner (a new-to-me author) sets up the scientists among the Analog readers in the first sentence, by describing Planet Green as ‘a geological puzzle wrapped in an ecological enigma inside a planetological mystery’

The absence of evidence of any forms of life beyond very small creepy things is a conundrum, quickly resolved in the opening sequence by not only a perfectly preserved fossil of a feathered bird, but also cave markings indicating more than avian intelligence.

We then follow, pretty rapidly, the story of the avian creatures, as the ship’s AI belonging to the human explorers is able to translate the alien language (all to easily). So we find out about the ancient, now extinct, creatures and their response to an alien challenge – not at a macro level, but in fine detail relating the adventures of one creature. The detail is rather too much to be believed. As the tale is gradually released by the AI, it intertwines with the experiences of the main protagonist, and her thoughts on lessons to be learnt.

Tom Ligon. Rendezvous at Angels Thirty.

Using some very clever tech, flight sims are able to go one step closer to reality, in actually inserting the person in the sim (and the airplane) into historical events. In this case, with a group of WWII fighter pilots accompanying a bombing mission over Europe. The pilots and their mission went missing in action, and the main protagonist is keen to test his finely hold sim skills in ‘real life’. There’s a lot (a lot!) of detail regarding fighter pilot skills and strategies, and an ethical dilemma at the end about whether it is best leave behind those about to fall.

Shane Tourtellotte. A Measure of Devotion.

After some years in the wilderness, a now-ageing previously high profile proponent of space flight persuades his old colleagues (not all of them!) to rejoin the PR push for furhter investment in the space programme.

However, there’s a problem : there is a barrier to him making full use of his skills. Are they just rusty, or is there reason behind his poor performance?

It transpires that he has given a lot, personally, for the success of the space missions. In being mapped to create an AI for a deep space ship, he has lost some of those characteristics (such as courage) that were desirable to embed in the AI. Consequently, he no longer has those characteristics on which to draw in presenting the space programme to best effect.

Steven Gould. A Story, with Beans.

A short look at blinkered faith.

Philip Edward Kaldon. The Brother on the Shelf.

Two young boys avidly collect bubblegum cards which detail the heroic spaceships that our side are using in the fight against the alien enemy. This being the future, the cards have an added bonus : the real-time status of the spaceship is indicated by the colour of the border. When the border turns black…

Some years pass, and the elder boy is called away, leaving his younger brother eager to hear his regular communication broadcasts. Until…

Robert R. Chase. The Sleeping Beauties.

The course of true love often runs less than smoothly.

A couple deeply in love are separated by Mars. An astronaut is willing to eschew his chance to go on a manned mission to Mars, unwilling to be separated from his love for so long. She pretends to disavow him for not having the wherewithal to accept the challenge, and he leaves in a huff.

She vows to wait for him, but rather than age whilst he is in supsended animation, she also goes into regular periods of deep freeze, despite the threat to her burgeoning musical career.

He also has challenges during his voyage, although his challenge is easier to overcome as he can resist the advances of a female crewmember as his own member is in chemically-induced dormancy to avoid such distractions whilst in space.

For never was there a love story with more far to go, than this of Juliet and her Mars-bound Romeo. (Except the starcrisscrossed lovers in The Forever War).

Conclusion.

A lot of emotion in this issue for the hard-boiled readers of Analog to handle!

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