Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, December 2003

P.J. Plauger. Lucky Luke.

Lucky is almost 21, and thus about to come into the inheritance left for him in his scientist father’s will (he was orphaned at five). That’s the good news. The bad news : his guardian, the owner of a private college, is not at all keen on this happening, and is keen for Lucky to let him remain in charge of these monies. When Lucky makes it clear the he is going to take control of his own finances, the wicked guardian takes drastic steps, imprisoning him and plying him with drugs with the intention of making him appear to be incapable of managing his own affairs. All very melodramatic, and almost Brontean.

The sfnal elements are that Lucky’s father, the scientist, discovered a gateway to an alternate/quantum Earth when Lucky was born. Whilst Lucky and his father returned to their Earth, his mother travelled to the alternate/quantum Earth with another baby, who is known as Luke in that pastoral, low-tech alternate world. Lucky has been able to commune with Luke, seeing an almost mirror image, personality wise (and getting vicarious nocturnal pleasure in his alter-ego’s love life).

When Lucky flees his evil guardian, he and Luke meet up between alternate worlds, and go there separate ways – not to the Earth from which they came, but to the other world.

Didn’t grab me.

Charles L. Harness. Faces.

A shortish short, and one that could easily have been a ‘Probablity Zero’. The thesis : the scientific ‘reading’ of human expressions can be used for invesigative purposes. A US judge initially refuses a warrant to search a house where there is a suspected terrorist armed with vials with containers containing smallpox. His opposition to the science behind the request is waived when the investigators play cards with him and their expert spots when he is bluffing and when he isn’t. And so they head off to the terrorist’s house, and the scientific study of his face shows that the vials are contained in the dust bag of the vacuum cleaner.

Bruce Holland Rogers. Visions of Gingerbread

Festive frivolity in which Xmas Fayre mellows those who partake of the seasonal nibbles.

Kyle Kirkland. Winding Weed.

First Contact visitors to Earth find that they are equally capable of getting addicted to drugs as humans. Kirkland points out that of course it’s not really a medical addiction, but a behavioural addicition, as people can choose to simply stop taking the drugs to which they are addicted. To help the aliens overcome this problem, the Earth scientist has to give up his 20-a day habit.

Edward M. Lerner. Moonstruck. The novel serialisation concludes.

Conclusion.

You’re not going to see any of these stories in any of the Year’s Best anthologies, which is the yardstick by which I generally rate stories. (Which is a nice way of saying that the short story content is a little weak).

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