Analog Science Fiction and Fact - December 2010 - Vol. CXXX No.12
Edited by Stanley Schmidt
Cover Artist: Bob Eggleton
Review by Sam Tomaino
Analog ISBN/ITEM#: 1059-2113
Date: 25 October 2010 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The December 2010 of Analog features stories by Shane Tourtelotte, Christopher L. Bennett, H.G. Stratmann, Brenda Cooper, Ron Collins, Carl Frederick, Brian C. Coad, and a Probability Zero by William Michael McCarthy along with the usual features.
The December 2010 issue of Analog ends the year with another issue of very good stories.
The fiction begins with "The Man from Downstream" by Shane Tourtelotte. Set in the Rome of the Emperor Augustus, this is told from the viewpoint of a widow named Marcia Balbi who has made a good friend of a gentleman named Quintius Julius Americus whose inventions for Rome have made him a citizen. He had shown up at her door one day. His Latin had been "peculiar and his accent barbarian", but she trusted him somehow and took him as a boarder with his board paid by a single silver ingot. He ventured into the nearby town and traded items he had for money, enough to set up a workshop which he has made quite profitable. It isn't much of a spoiler to learn he's a time-traveler but there is more to the story than that. Tourtelotte has done his research here (as he shows in an accompanying science fact article), but he also tells a fine story.
Next up is "The Hebras and the Demons and the Damned" by Brenda Cooper. Our narrator, Chaunce, is a colonist on a world called Fremont where life is difficult. Many of the native animals there are vicious, especially those called 'demon dogs'. They have found a species called djuri good to eat but have found little about the tallest species they call the hebras. Chaunce starts observing them and how successful they are at avoiding attacks by the demon dogs. With the help of others, she finds out something about the hebras making this a different kind of first contact story.
Carlo Rogerson meets his "Deca-Dad" in a nice little story from Ron Collins. His 'd-dad', Aldous Yazgar Hakkinen, is actually his "grandparent, six times removed" who has been in space a long time. In the brief encounter told here, Carlo learns about Aldous' life and Aldous learns some things, too.
William Michael McCarthy gives us another fun Probability Zero piece in "Spell Czech". This one is told in epistolary fashion and deals with the consequences of relying too much on software to correct spelling errors.
Carl Frederick gives us an amusing tale in "Happy Are the Bunyips". Roger Laczko is the head zookeeper in an unnamed zoo. He owns a sheepdog named Sniffles that Zoo Director Angelina Grouss finds annoying. One day, the zoo gets a letter from some organization called the IZA, informing them that they had been selected to receive two bunyips called Twerx and Korfen. Neither Roger or Angelina have heard of bunyips and a check on the internet tells them only that they are a large, legendary animal that supposedly lives in Australia. Angelina thinks it's a joke but the bunyips show up and Roger discovers strange things about them for a very good story.
I haven't seen a story about patent law since Charles Harness died but Brian C. Coad gives us one in "A Placebo Effect". Years ago, retired patent lawyer, Wally Mason had written a patent for a pill that was actually a placebo which showed amazing effects. Now the pill has become an issue between India and China and threatens war. With the developer of the pill dead, Wally is being blamed for everything. He finds a solution in this clever piece.
Christopher L. Bennett's "Home Is Where the Hub Is" is a sequel to "The Hub of The Master" in the March 2010 issue. David LaMacchia, Hub pilot named Nashita Wing and Rynyan of the Sostyn race are still working together trying to solve the mysteries of the Hub "a center of mass of the dark matter halo" that connects many places in the Galaxy. Other alien races aren't helping them much and, when they wind up discovering an entry point that had not been previously reported, residents of the nearby planet are not that pleased. When reviewing the previous story, I favorably compared it to the "fun adventure" and "interesting aliens" of James White and hoped to see more. Well, I enjoyed this one, too, and still want to see more.
The regular fiction concludes with "Primum Non Nocere" by H.G. Stratmann. This is set in a future in which people who overeat are treated like alcoholics and child-molesters, with their intake severely controlled by implants called Metabolic NanoMonitors. Esther has been caught deactivating hers and is in some combination of a fat farm and re-education center. This one takes some twists and turns but remains a grim prediction of a possible future.
Once again, I say, subscribe to Analog!