Analog Science Fiction and Fact – January/February 2013 – Vol. CXXXIII No. 1 & 2
Edited by Stanley Schmidt
Cover Artist: David A Hardy
Review by Sam Tomaino
Analog Magazine ISBN/ITEM#: 1059-2113
Date: 23 November 2012
The January 2013 of Analog has stories by Rajnar Vajra, Edward M. Lerner, Brad R. Torgersen, Robert Scherrer, Amy Thomson, Kyle Kirkland, Jerry Oltion, John G. Hemry and H.G. Stratmann, a fact article by Michael F. Flynn, two Probability Zero stories by Harry Turtledove and Edward M. Lerner, plus the usual features.
The January 2013 issue of Analog is here and it's a pretty good one!
The fiction begins with "In the Moment" by Jerry Oltion. Comet Davis is coming near the Earth and very near the Moon. If it hits it, ejecta from the Moon could cause disaster on Earth. Shawn and many other people are in a field outside their town with their telescopes observing. Arthur, a boy Shawn knows comes up and they share the telescope. This becomes a great moment in their lives in this touching, cute little story.
"The Exchange Officers" by Brad R. Torgersen is an exciting story about an attack on a U.S. space station by soldiers of the People's Republic of China. The story begins with the attack and an EMP that knocks out most of its defenders all but two. Those two are proxy robots controlled on the ground by exchange officers from the Army and Marines to this Air Force and Navy facility. We have flashbacks that tell us of the first meeting and training of our proxy controllers, Warrant Officers Dan Jaraczuk and Mavy Stoddard, Army and Marines respectively. Their nicknames are Chopper and Chesty (after "Chesty" Puller) and they both really want to be real astronauts, but this is the next best thing. The story of their defense of the Orbital Defense Initiative Station is exciting and full of the seat-of-the-pants heroics that are appropriate for this kind of tale. It also has a nice little ending.
"The War of the Worlds, Book One: Chapter 18: The Sergeant-Major" by John G. Hemry is a lost chapter of the famous H.G. Wells novel. One of the Martian tripods has come down in a part of England under the command of Colonel Allen. Unfortunately, he must attend the Viceroy's ball and many of his officers are out of commission. It falls to Sergeant-Major Richardson, Corporal Thomas, and Privates Jones, Hastings, Cooper, and Smith to destroy the tripod. And by Jingo, they do an excellent job of it. Wonderfully funny tale from Hemry!
In "Descartes's Stepchildren" by Robert Scherrer, two scientists, researching "the locus of consciousness in the human brain", find it as something that can be detected. In the process they find that about a fifth of their test subjects have NO consciousness, even though they seem perfectly normal. One scientist wants to abandon the project completely and does, but the other continues to study it. Eventually, his theory is proven and a second class citizen, called Blanks, emerges with negative effects on society. That's only part of the story, of course, and you have to accept that the scientist is not missing something, but it's an interesting story, nonetheless. Oh, and correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't it just be "Descartes'"?
"Buddha Nature" by Amy Thomson begins with a not-very-humanoid robot asking for entrance to a Buddhist monastery in Vermont. It wants to achieve enlightenment. After much discussion, the abbot of the monastery decides to admit the robot who calls himself Ras, short for Erasmus. There is controversy at first and the abbot asks one of the monks, Samsara, to tutor Ras. Ras proves to be a very quick study. This story dealt well with issues of sentience and was quite effectively told.
"Neighborhood Watch" by H.G. Stratmann is an amusing story and that's saying a lot as the people of Earth are threatened with extinction. It seems all the planets, moons, asteroids, etc. in our Solar System are actually teaming with life. They are highly intelligent and telepathic and have used their advanced science to fool our probes for years. The representatives of the various bodies have familiar names like Twee'll and Yuggoth, but there are actually reasons for that. The planetary reps are tired of expending all their energy on maintaining their privacy until the people of Earth develop enough intelligence, i.e. telepathy, to make them fit citizens of the Solar System. They want to wipe out Earth's population. Good thing Twee'll of Mars has another proposal. Fun story and quite enjoyable.
"True to Form" by Kyle Kirkland features Cal (short for California) Winter, whose life is on the skids because of a gambling problem. Then, he gets involved with some people, Rainy Day and Rising Sun, investigating an old friend of his, named Bringem On, who has become rich but may be involved with turning artificially created people called mechs into something human. Another old friend of his, now working as a woman wrestler named Mother Love, also enters the picture. As you can see, people in this near future have interesting names. Cal isn't sure who to trust but uses some of his old pharmacological knowledge to investigate. This was a good classic Analog story about a quirky guy figuring out some scientific problem and was, also, quite enjoyable.
In "The Woman Who Cried Corpse" by Rajnar Vajra, Alison gets a call from the hospital telling her that her mother has died for the fourth time. It seems she kept spontaneously reviving. When she arrives at the hospital with her daughter, she finds the place in chaos due to the power going on and off. She also finds herself accused by federal agents of killing her mother and engineering these blackouts to cover it up. Then, terrorists appear to shoot the agents and kidnap her and her daughter. She is soon rescued and eventually finds out what is going on. The problem is we have to wade through pages of scientific info dump which was really quite boring, but the only clunker in this issue.
The fiction concludes with "Time Out" by Edward M. Lerner. Down-on-his-luck Steve Bitner gets a job working as a handyman-assistant to physicist Jonas Gorski. Jonas is obsessed and developing something. Time travel. On offhand remark from Steve gives him an idea. He hasn't had any messages from the future because he doesn't have a receiver. He builds one and gets messages from his future self. All this sets off a chain of events that we know from the opening section will not end well. This was a nice little foray into the paradoxes of time travel.
This double issue also as two Probability Zero stories. "We Install" by Harry Turtledove is an amusing tale about a guy looking into getting a new solar system at his residence. This seems routine until you start paying attention to what they are actually saying. Another nice one from Turtledove! "Unplanned Obsolescence" by Edward M. Lerner, another funny piece, deals with all those upgrades and things you have to do just to get a TV or computer to work! Nice twist at the end!
As I've said before, things are changing at Analog with the coming retirement of Stan Schmidt. Take a chance and subscribe!