Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, November 2002

Robert J. Sawyer. Ineluctable.

Amateur scientist Darren Hamasaki is in his observatory shed in his backyard when he discovers palpable evidence of … First Contact!

He makes contact with the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams of the International Astronomical Union. His fame increases following his discovery and he finds himself in Las Vegas as that city blinks it city lights in response to the initial message.

A correspondence ensues, and we see those with whom Earth is communication – a strange race, of whom Palm-Up-Middle-Fingers-Splayed is the main character. (Now if he had been Palm-Up-Middle-Digit-Raised, that could have led to calamity).

But in fact, calamity, albeit long postponed, does ensue as those on Earth make a gaffe which marks us out as not the kind of neighbours one would want to have.

Brian Plante. It’s only Human.

A round by round summary, dialogue included, of a future game show, in which one of the contestants is an AI. Can the humans detect the non-human, or will the AI stand the Turing Test and prevent them from winning the prize.

No prizes for guessing the answer!

Grey Rollins. Tower of Babel.

A language translator transforms the communication on Earth. Never mind the Star Trek translators coping with alien languages, this one can translate teenage argot.

Kathy Oltion. The Cat and the Pendulum.

More of a ‘Probability Zero’ – a short tale in which an experiment to identify the effect of an eclipse on gravity proves to be spectacularly successful.

Dave Creek. The Human Equations.

Earth is in a fairly dire, violence-ridden state. Habitats encircling the planet have strict laws about violence, and one young man visiting another habitat makes the fatal mistake of striking a shopkeeper who challenged him with shoplifting.

A lawkeeper arrives to see that his crime is punished – taking him down to Earth. His mother, who has brought him up in a strict (backward) religious habitat, pleads in vain. And no sooner has the young man landed on Earth than he meets a quite gruesome death.

The plot is predicated on some fairly extreme situations : a young man who is so naive that he believes he can take a piece of gold jewellry from the shop, and who, despite the quite clear consequences, strikes out.

Walter F. Cuirle. Truck Stop.

Recently widowed scientist Martin Seibel is in his observatory when he discovers palpable evidence of … First Contact!

He confronts his bereavement as the offworld beacon draws him onward.

Ian R. MacLeod’s New Light on the Drake Equation covered this ground a year ago in SCI FICTION to much better effect.

Edward M. Lerner. Survival Instinct.

The concluding installment of Lerner’s ‘science thriller’ in which an AI escapes it program and causes merry hell through information systems across North America. A group of desperate scientists fight it, some dying in the attempt. It is scientist Doug Carey, drawing on his experience with his neural interface to his artificial arm, who saves the day at the last minute.

Conclusion.

A slight improvement over the October issue, IMHO, although those rating it on Fictionwise have it as ‘Great or Good’ for the most part. Me, I’d maybe give it an OK.

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