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

The Precipice. Ben Bova.

This is the first part of a novel serialisation. As I don’t read novel serialisations, let us press on…

My Favorite Robot. Ron Goulart.

Goulart’s ‘My Pal Clunky’ appeared in Analog a couple of years ago, and was collected by Hartwell in Years Best SF 4, which is where I read it, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Maggie Quincade of Quincade & Quincade responds to her husband Ben Quincade’s fleeing the marital nest by uploading a digital version of his personality into a guardbot. Upon being re-activated after a three-month period, the guardbot/Ben Quincade is less than happy with the turn of event. He becomes even less lugubrious when he finds that he is wanted to help Maggie solve a murder…

Unlike ‘My Pal Clunky’ I didn’t really enjoy this story. It feels a little forced and tries rather too hard to be clever – there is hardly a paragraph which doesn’t show some clever wordplay or humorous description. And ‘solve the mystery’ SF isn’t really my cup of tea at all. The British Science Fiction Association have just (April 2001) voted The Suspect Genome by Peter F. Hamilton as the best short SF (in British magazines) story for 2000, and I didn’t rate that murder mystery story either.

Hostile Takeover. Edward M. Lerner

Oh dear, having had a novel serialisation, and then a murder mystery, the third contribution to this issue of Analog is a (dramatic drum roll) … story in a series – another of my less-favoured types of story.

Lerner’s ‘Dangling Conversations’ (Analog Nov 2000), a lengthy story about First Contact through radio transmission appealed to me as a fairly realistic and likely take on the First Contact theme. ‘Creative Destruction’ in Analog March 2001 was perhaps a bit more formulaic in its storyline about murky trading activities and murder, and I commented “one other minor quibble – as in the first story the main character sorts everything out and even comes up with the neat solution: the lab-coated multi-skilled scientist as hero”

This third in the sequence has similar flaws for me which rather impacted on the ‘suspension of disbelief’ in that the two main characters are descendants of the original characters (as was the case in the second story) and in this story we are to accept the huge co-incidence that the journalist who stumbles on the big issue in this story is a cousin to one of the government team on the same case. Oh, and the journo ‘cleverly’ solves the condundrum at the end of the story.

Wound the Wind. George Zebrowski.

On Earth a small minority ‘stubbonly’ resist the longevity and genetic modification which the rest of humanity have taken to their collective bosom. They see humanity as losing all that is vital in embracing such a future.

Should these people be protected from themselves, and forced to see the wisdom of the ways of the majority?

The Heights. Larry Niven.

Another in the author’s ‘Draco’s Tavern’ series. Hmmm.

Down the Rabbit Hole. John G. Henry.

Almost a nostalgic homage to SF of the 30s/40s/50s in the way a systems bod is ‘chosen’ to pilot a sixth quantum FTL probe. The problem with the other five is that they disappeared without trace.

<rhetorical question>Can Horton solve the problem and avoid the fate which presumably befell pilots of #1-#5?</rhetorical question> Of course he can! But how do the Three Stooges and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers come into it?

To my mind the story could almost be passed off as a previously undiscovered early work of Asimov (excluding the references to post-early Asimov movies). Which could be a good thing, if you like early Asimov.

The Gift of Unbinding. Paula S. Jordan.

There are tensions on Earth as those leaving to seek adventure off-planet are seen as taking with them part of Earth’s heritage. Individuals also face heartbreaking separations.

Nice idea. Fairly cumbersome press conference technique to air the debate, and a quite creaky dramatic ending. And here’s a treat – after being chased up a ladder by a gang of violent green activists: There was a low grating sound and the ladder, its thug capacity finally exceeded, shuddered and pulled away from the wall. “it’s thug capacity finally exceeded” – puhleeze!

Conclusion.

Not one of my more enjoyable reads of recent months. A novel serialisation, 2x series stories, and a murder mystery all in one issue – and this after reading the outstanding March 2001 F&SF with the Lucius Shepherd novella and other top quality stories. I actually took the time to read Geoffrey A. Landis’ science fact article, which I did enjoy!

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