Analog Science Fiction and Fact – Vol. CXXVIII No. 5- May 2008
by Stanley Schmidt
Edited by Stanley Schmidt
Cover Artist: Jean-Pierre Normand
Review by Sam Tomaino
Analog ISBN/ITEM#: 10592113
Date: 24 February 2008
Links: Analog Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The issue begins with a novella, "Test Signals" by David Bartell. Jimmy Tanner works for Good Fortune Genetic Design that uses a computer to come up with random genetic designs that might result in something useful and profitable. Tina Peshj, one of his co-workers, shows him a design she got to evaluate. It's a human being with four arms. That's Jimmy. He was born with a genetic defect that gives him two extra arms coming out of his chest. Tina has a minor defect herself. They become close and want to know why Tina got this design. This sets off a chain of events that get pretty intense. What can Jimmy do to resolve his situation?
"No Traveller Returns" by Dave Creek features Mike Christopher from "Some Distant Shore" in the September 2007 issue. This time, Mike finds himself accompanying a Sobrenian named Votana who is carrying a stasis case. They wind up on a lawless place called the Station of the Lost and are chased by other aliens. Eventually, Mike finds out what is going on and takes his own action. In "The Ashes of His Fathers" by Eric James Stone, Jeroboam Cooper must return the ashes of the settlers of a world before the new millennium (that's the 3000s). But the planet declared war on Earth hundreds of years ago and he can't land. Time is running out and their souls will be stuck in Limbo for another 1000 years. What can he do?
"Still-Hunting" by Sarah Castle takes place in a future when the polar ice is shrinking and polar bears and other animals have become sentient. Rariil just wants to mate with Graashah again but must adjust to the changing times. Walter L. Kleine's "Petite Pilferer Puzzles Piedmont Police" features Sergeant Stan Przbylski, a veteran police officer of the Piedmont Police Department who is puzzled by a series of crimes committed by a small woman dubbed the Petite Pilferer. She even eventually returns the items stolen. He briefly catches her to no avail. But his veteran instincts serve him well in this delightful story.
In "What Drives Cars" by Carl Frederick, Paul Whitman has an intelligent car, called Victor-16, a courtesy of his brother who works for the company who makes them. Paul is a high school guidance counselor and used to dealing with impulsive teenagers. When his car shows signs of sentience and impulsive behavior, he knows what to do. This was a thoroughly enjoyable story.
Ronald R. Lambert gives us an interesting situation in "Consequences of the Mutiny". The Magellan is a ship ferrying passengers to Epsilon Eridani II. But it needs a live crew and, generations ago, they mutinied because they did not want to live on a planet. They began using their nanotech to build another ship (appropriately called Pitcairn Island) for them to take. But, after all these years, there is a population problem and new mutineers want more room for their children, at the expense of the colonists in stasis.
Last of all, we have Edward M. Lerner's "Night of the RFIDs". RFID stands for radio-frequency identification, "tiny silicon chips embedded in credit cards, shoes, tires, E-ZPass transponders", etc. In a small town in South Carolina, a computer virus shuts things down. Then the National Guard moves in. Tim, a local boy, finds out that a friend who recently moved to town is involved. Things get resolved in a very interesting way.
To put the icing on the cake, Darrell Schweitzer contributes a clever Probability Zero story in "The Dinosaurs of Eden". He resolves the problem of competing theories of how life began on Earth. With all these stories and the usual features, I highly recommend this issue!