Analog Science Fiction and Fact – November 2012 – Vol. CXXXII No. 11
Edited by Stanley Schmidt
Cover Artist: Tomislav Tikulin
Review by Sam Tomaino
Analog ISBN/ITEM#: 1059-2113
Date: 29 August 2012
Links: Analog Science Fiction & Fact / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The fiction begins with "Seagulls, Jack-O-Lanterns and Interstitial Spaces" by Gray Rinehart, The seagulls are actually "Station Environment And General Utility Loader/Laborers" which pick up trash on the space station on which Owen Summers works. The story focuses on Owen, his friend Monty, Susan (who Owen would like to be closer to), and Jonas Dixon, the commander of the station. They are constructing the spokes for the station and are encountering problems because the interstitial spaces that will connect the habitats are pretty small. Will they need midgets or children to crawl around in them? Maybe there's a better way. A fun little tale to start our reading.
Next up is "Strobe Effect" by Alastair Mayer and Brad R. Torgersen. Kathy Sauer has had her difficulties working with Dr. Peter Lorenzen as one of the research teams working on something called the ZipChip Project for Procyon Systems. When a test she suggested goes awry and destroys a test cell that had taken weeks to build, Lorenzen blames her and stalks out of the lab. That night, while watching an old western movie and wagon wheels that looked like they were spinning backward, she gets an inspiration. There is a lot of science talk here and it's easy to get lost in it. But when it comes down to it, this is a classic Analog problem-solving story and a very good example of one. Yes, there is some human interest stuff added in that might be considered a little pat, but it's a very enjoyable story.
"The Information in a Dream" by Sarah K. Castle features Renee Nez, a Navajo working for a research facility developing a computer called Deep Freeze that can predict human behavior. She is caring for an invalid father with Parkinson's disease. When she is asked to undergo an operation so that she can interface with the computer, she has difficulty making the right decision. Who wouldn't? What made this story was Renee's relationship with her father, giving the story real heart.
"Pictures at an Exhibition" by Robert R. Chase starts with a museum guide welcoming people to the Sunflash-Sanders photography exhibit, which explored the northern arboreal forest of Canada, that had been made accessible by global climate change that had been much milder and nonthreatening than anticipated. Jonathan Morgan, a rich man who has a special interest, his nephew, Jack Sanders, the expedition's photographer, and Keith McPhee, a full-blooded Cree, who is their guide, make up the group. Morgan eventually tells the other two that he is not seeking species thought to be extinct, but Sasquatch. What really makes this story great is how it all works out. You'll just love it. I did.
"Tech Support" by Richard A. Lovett was actually the last story I read in this issue and it was an utter delight. It starts with a man called Alec, who had called to his assistant, Watson, to "come here – I want to see you" the night before over a device he had just invented. Suddenly, the device buzzes. He picks it up and hears a voice at the other end. The voice eventually complains about his Facebook account. They both eventually figure out what is going on. It all makes for a fun story with an ending that's just perfect.
In "Survival in Shades of Orange" by Patty Jensen, Mauro and Gabriella are a husband-and-wife team assigned to the planet, Vittoria, newly acquired by their bosses. He is told that the previous crew on the planet's base had died, but he can't share that information with his wife because they can't trust the AI not to notice something in their behavior and, maybe, kill them, too. This causes problems and misunderstandings between the two of them. Eventually the mystery is solved with a surprising suspect. The story seems a bit contrived.
The fiction concludes with "Siege Perilous" by Daniel Hatch. Towards the end of the 21st Century, something called 'cog technology' is developed and immediately causes a war that wipes out cities, nation states, 5 billion people and a whole lot more. An asteroid that calls itself Castle Anthrax is attacked by a spaceship called Divine Sword and we are treated to how the battle goes. There are engaging characters and the conclusion is clever enough but the problem with the story is the amount of info dump we get, especially at the beginning. This could have some judicious editing.
As an added bonus we get a Probability Zero by none other than Larry Niven. "The Man in the Pink Shirt" is a guy named Svetz whose visits the office of John W. Campbell just after the famous visit by FBI agents concerning a certain story by a writer named Cleve Cartmill. This one was very short but had a hilarious conclusion.
Again, I say, subscribe to Analog!