Analog, October 2008

Richard A. Lovett & Mark Neimann-Ross. New Wineskins.

Simple premise : a vineyard is able to get around problems with migrant labor by employing, at low cost, migrant workers who remain in their own country, tele-controlling grape picking robotics. The drama comes through a reporter who sniffs out the story, and camps out overnight to find out exactly what is happening, and when she and her companion are found by gun-toting goons, their skins are saved in the nick of time by a tele-labourer. The main character is drawn is somewhat more detail than is usual for Analog, and is in fact both female and mixed-race, which is also out of the norm.

Dave Creek. Stealing Adriana.

A murderer who is making his way around the solar system, and whom has a special power that enables him to touch his victims and absorb one of their emotions (sounds a bit Heroes-y to me) is tracked down. He is hiding out in a Mennonite community on an orbiting habitat – which you would think would make him easy to capture. However, a crack investigator is sent in, and she is able to use her nano-modified body to swim to his island hideout to affect an arrest. However, he gets the draw on her, and the local police, and is able to make an escape, until she jumps off a cliff to land on the boat he is using as his getaway vehicle. The drama is just a bit silly, but is interspersed with ‘earlier that day’ sequences (which end up being a bit of a clumsy mechanism) in which the investigator’s background (her sister is a previous victim of the attacker, is a hollow shell of a person), and the conflicts with the low-tech rural community are explored.

Rather intriguingly, the only tech used by the Mennonites are cell phones of a very 2008-type functionality, with the kids enjoying texting each other.

Robert R. Chase. The Meme Theorist.

A scientist decides that having Heisenberg appear at the breakfast table is the last straw, and hands his resignation in to his faculty. They are not keen to see him leave, as he has been having a purple patch of late, and seems to be on the brink of something big.

Indeed, as more visitations take place, he is breaking new cosomological ground, and is staggered by the power he holds in his hands.

There is some decent scientific/philosophical musings in the story, but it gets a little heavy-going, and rather disappointingly brings in the recently deceased by her own hands lover in the final scene. I was minded of James Gunn’s ‘The Listeners’, reprinted Nebula Awards Showcase 2008 in its altogether more assured story of an obsessed scientist and the suicide of his wife which resulted.

Tracy Canfield. Starship Down.

The opening illustration of cutesy 12-foot high aliens, and having them referred to as ‘bunnies’ by the lead protagonist was not a great start for me. The story is a routine xenobiology story, in which the solo scientist and some of her favourites (Baron von Bunny being one) interact. The scientists transgresses a golden rule enforced by the higher alien powers. If you’re looking for a xenobiology story to give a 12-year old who hasn’t read much SF, then I would recommend this heartily.

Carl Frederick. Vita Longa.

A young woman, previously a size 0 model, and now an aspiring artist, decideson a century in stasis as an art exhibit, partly to keep time with her mentor and erstwhile lover, who has pancreatic cancer and who needs to enter statis to await a cure. During her time in statis tastes change, and as the Rubenesque form is now in favour, her body goes out of favour as a piece of art, however, the piece of her art she had with her whilst in stasis is now recognised as art, and she is reunited with her mentor. Which is nice.

David R. Palmer. Tracking. Part III of III.

Concluding serialisation.

Conclusion.

Nothing to trouble the Hugo/Nebula panels, or the Year’s Best anthologists.

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