Analog Science Fiction and Fact - March 2016 - Vol. CXXXVI No. 03
Edited by Trevor Quachri
Cover Artist: Maurizio Manzieri
Review by Sam Tomaino
Analog Magazine ISBN/ITEM#: 1059-2113
Date: 27 January 2016
Links: Analog SF & F / How to Subscribe / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The January 2016 issue of Analog is here and it's a very good one with a Hugo-worthy novella!.
The short fiction begins with "The Coward's Option" by Adam-Troy Castro. -+- This is another one of Castro's great stories featuring Andrea Cort, a lawyer indentured to the diplomatic corps because of things she has done in her past. Here she is on an inhospitable planet, Caith, adjudicating the case of one Griff Varrick who had murdered a Caithirin. The Caithirin's method of execution is particularly horrible, involving being crushed to death over many days. Varrick says he has heard of a way to live. It's called the "coward's option". Cort investigates it, talking to a Caithirin who performs an operation that implants a device in the neck of the subject with a transcription that will prohibit the person from doing proscribed things. That person essentially becomes a prisoner in his own body with the "mind" of the transcription taking over. Cort is horrified by this procedure and sees that if this technology became known by humans, it could be grossly misused. She enlists the help of the human ambassador, someone she had not been impressed with before, for her help in keeping this a secret. From there, things take a surprising turn which I will not spoil. I'll just say that it's a brilliantly constructed story. Like one of Castro's previous Andrea Cort stories, this will be on my Hugo shortlist for Best Novella, next year. I've said this before, but I'm going to really have to check out his novels with this character.
"Unlinkage" by Eric Del Carlo -+- Etta Pryor is in her kitchen with her four-year-old daughter, Bethany, when, suddenly, she feels the impact of punches that knock her down. A doctor can find nothing wrong with her and she wonders if it is related to her "biomass" from when she was part of a group of soldiers fighting terrorists. The biomass implanted in her brain linked her to another soldier named Conroy who had been bulked up to monstrous proportions. Unfortunately, it destroyed most of his mind. Etta was his Handler and he was called a Brute. She thought he had been killed but with the help of an old comrade, she finds out differently. A good solid story.
"The Perfect Bracket" by Howard Hendrix & Art Holcomb -+- How did John Peoples predict perfectly the NCAA College Basketball tournament. Richard Mann enters his hotel room and accuses him of time travel. But it's not that, and the story takes some nice twists and turns. One nitpick, if the tournament has 64 teams in it, that's only 63 games played and 63 correct picks. Although, at one point, we are told that there were 128 teams in the tournament. If that was true, then it would be 127 correct picks.
"Elderjoy" by Gregory Benford (Probability Zero) -+- The government taxes old people with neuro-cardio monitors if they have sex. How can this be avoided? Amusing?
"Snowbird" by Joe M. McDermott -+- Snowbirds are elderly folks who travel around in boxlike RVs that drive themselves. They seek warmer climes. Mary Margaret is pruning trees during the off-season at her family's orchard when a RV pulls into their parking lot. No one gets out. No one answers the door when they knock. She hears about other RVs on the road, heading towards them. When her and her boyfriend, the local constable get legal authority to enter, they find the owner dead. But there is more to the story than that. Another good solid story.
The short fiction concludes with "Drummer" by Thomas R. Dulski. -+- Our narrator is a galactic traveling salesman, Dale Maygan, selling heaters for a company called Fermi Furnaces. On one planet, he meets a young man, Barclimas Tragg, selling snake oil. Tragg isn't a very likable guy and has had some bad things happen in his past. Maygan meets him again later, pushing something else bogus and not doing a good job of it. Then, he runs into him a third time and there's our story. Nicely done.