Analog Science Fiction and Fact, April 2001 (Peanut Press edition)

May Be Some Time. Brenda W. Clough

Last year Scott of the Antartic turned out to be a vampire (Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris’ ‘Requiem Antartica’ in Asimovs May 2000) and in this story Captain Oates’ noble walk into the snow leads him to the 21st Century.

The experiences of Oates’ time-travelling cloned resurrection in the future is described rather too lengthily and by-the-numbers, with this reader struggling to engage with the character or the plot, to the extent that I ended up skimming the last part of the story.

And according to the author on rec.arts.sf.written, this is to be the first part of a novel. Hmm. Pressure Gradiant. Pete D. Manison.

The first of two colonisation missions goes badly wrong when the ship appears from the wormhole through which it travelled too close to the gravity well and crashes on the planet. Were the crew able to use the escape pods prior to crashing , and if so, where are they now? (The technology exists to travel through wormholes but not evidently to spot the one piece of high-tech hardware in a planetary system).

The crushing gravity and impenetrable atmosphere of the planet prove to be problematic for the second mission, which is following close behind. A small rover is built and parachuted to the surface, which has 15 minutes to find the black box before the atmospheric pressure destroys it. An AI of one of the crew, whose wife was on the first mission, is loaded onto the rover.

The rover finds the wreck, the answer, and more.

The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and the Mariachis of Mars. Ernest Hogan.

The Powers That Be decide that the lower orders on Mars could benefit from some music in their lives. One of the purpled workforce (nano-enhanced skin engineered to filter out harmful rays) is recruited to bring music to the masses.

For a while Paco Cohen is treated well by rock and roll – until his girlfriend leaves him for his manager and he begins to get too political.

Paco finds himself re-modelled and re-named and working again. But there ain’t no stopping those martian blues. An interesting, entertaining story (checks cover to see that he is reading Analog).

Talking Monkeys. Rob Chilson.

Somewhat uninspired tale of a scientific planetary settlement studying the native flora and fauna. Lengthy chunks of exposition about the said f&f, interspersed with an empty-headed, stacked blonde (who is nevertheless a whizz with DNA) who disrupts the equilibrium. The story meanders about, setting up the requisite scientific poser, and then ends at what feels to be a fairly arbitrary point.

An in-story reference to a Clifford D. Simak short story also grates.

What Weena Knew. James van Pelt.

The story of H.G. Wells’ time-travellers’ visit to the Eloi/Morlocks, from the perspective of Weena, the Eloi he befriends.

Why?

Wells, Verne, Haggard, Conan Doyle, and more – they are all out of copyright : the potential for raiding plotlines and characters is endless, but where do we draw the line? When Edgar Rice Burroughs is fair game will we be inundated with Tarzan and John Carter stories? Barsoominian tales from Dejah Thoris’ perspective? Stories about Conan the Barbarian’s more literate brother Kevin the Librarian? Or about the black sheep of the family, Onan the Masturbarian?

Enough already.

The Wanderlust. Brian C. Coad.

Genetic Modification and nanotechnology enable the seriously wealthy to buy into their own Personal Baronial Fiefdom. However, the solitude which often comes with the territory can trigger Wanderlust, a response to lack of pheromonal human contact.

Wally Mason is visited by ex-colleague Claude Bannister, owner of a PBF and now inflicted with the wanderlust. Mason realises that he has in his basement a potential antidote, given to him by the inventor who made PBF’s possible.

The antidote is used by Bannister, and the pheromone producing virus is let loose – threatening and outbreak of global happiness.

But how does this tally with the beginning of the story, in which a grumpy Mason looks back on the events subsequently described in the rest of the story, but without any reference to the virus?

The story reads like a first draft, with random ideas and plot and chronology deviations, off-stage characters which sound more interesting than those on stage, and in need of editorial input. The Wally Mason character appeared in some stories a decade ago, so perhaps what is fresh in the mind of the author and is written as one of a current series of linked stories does not come across well to someone who hasn’t read the earlier stories (and on this basis is not inclined to seek them out).

Conclusion.

A bit of a dip in quality this month, with only the Ernest Hogan story really taking my fancy.

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