R. Neube. Dummy Tricks. (Asimovs, Oct/Nov 2010)

Homer J. Simpson is mentioned in the editor’s intro to the story by way of setting the scene for a drama on the planet of New Tahiti featuring an intellectually challenged protagonist. Hal Koenigson is suffering from a Parkinsons-type set of conditions due to drug misuse and other activities in his youth.

The silver lining to this cloud is that he is thus impervious to climactic conditions on the planet which drive everyone else away from the breeding grounds of a rare plant, enabling him to have almost free access to the plant and to bring in money to his family – who treat him pretty shabbily.

His only competition are ‘pirates’ who risk the howling alien plains, and he has no compunction at taking their lives for their transgressions. He in unsympathetic when a family, including children, infringe on his family’s property.

It’s a fairly bleak tale on a bleak planet, looking at his life, and the price paid by the family to try and eke out any kind of living on the unforgiving planet. A couple of stylistic issues don’t help the story either – ‘blind for the nonce’ instead of ‘temporarily blinded’, and the archaic ’twas instead of ‘It was’, with a very Analog-y feeling to it.

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