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Analog Science Fiction and Fact - December 2009 - Vol. CXXIX No.12
Edited by Stanley Schmidt
Cover Artist: David Hardy
Review by Sam Tomaino
Analog  ISBN/ITEM#: 10592113
Date: 27 September 2009 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The December 2009 issue of Analog features stories by Stephen E. Baxter, H.G. Stratmann, Jerry Oltion, Carl Frederick, a Probability Zero by Robert Scherrer, and the conclusion to the serial by G. David Nordley.

The December 2009 issue of Analog is a pretty good one. I liked all the stories.

The short fiction begins with "Formidable Caress" by Stephen E. Baxter, part of a series of stories about a future Earth in which time is stratified and moves at different rates, depending on whether you are on the Shelf, the Platform or the Lowland. Time moves quicker the higher that you are. Telni is an exceptional male of the Platform and we see his story from birth to death. A machine called the Weapon controls things and regularly converses with Telni who has made some discoveries about the world and the Universe. He is especially fascinated by the Formidable Caress, a cosmic disaster that happened in the past and may happen again. Baxter creates a very interesting story and world and I will look forward to what we will see next.

"The Jolly Old Boyfriend" in Jerry Oltion's story is Sergei, Gina's ex-boyfriend who was supposed to be dead. But, with Gina's new boyfriend spending Christmas Eve at her place, Sergei is in her living room…in a Santa suit...and she can see through him. All this makes for a charming story even with Christmas almost three months away!

"The Universe Beneath Our Feet" by Carl Frederick opens on another world, in which six-legged beings live out their lives. Jerik and K'chir are amongst those observing a funeral for an elder. K'chir does not believe in the god of his people and Jerik is not sure. K'chir decides to climb a cliff in the direction of where heaven is supposed to be. Other events happen which challenge the religious orthodoxy and we find out something about their world. Frederick does a good job portraying an alien civilization.

In "Wilderness Were Paradise Enow", H.G. Stratmann continues the story begun in "The Last Temptation of Katerina Savitskaya" in the November 2008 issue. Aliens have given Martin Slayton and Katerina Savitskaya godlike powers to manipulate matter, energy, gravity and time. This happened on their mission to Mars. Now, Martin wants to use his ability to save Humanity. Katerina thinks this is a bad idea. He starts to interfere with things on Earth. What can Katerina do? Stratmann poses many questions here and the end might leave room for another story. This one was a very good one and I hope Stratmann writes part 3.

There's a Probability Zero in this issue, "A Flash of Lightning" by Robert Scherrer. I'll just say it involved time-travel but was only mildly amusing.

The issue also included the conclusion to "To Climb a Flat Mountain" by G. David Nordley which began in last month's issue. In this, Jacques Song wakes to find himself somewhere strange. He was supposed to have been in cold sleep and awakened on a base in the Kuiper Belt of the 36 Ophiuchi system where a nasty cult had taken over a colony. Instead, his ship went way past that and travelled for 1000 years. He finds himself with only limited survival gear on a strange world. Eventually, he finds other survivors and conflict between them over what to do. He and his followers do more traveling and eventually find answers to their questions. This was an okay story but too much of it consisted of wandering around.

Analog continues to provide quality science fiction. Of special note is that their next issue, the January/February 2010 issues, will be a double issue and their 80th Anniversary Issue! I'm looking forward to it! You should subscribe.


Our Readers Respsond

From: James W
I disagree with your favorable review of "Wilderness Were Paradise Enow". The interactions of the two astronauts/fiancés was bogged down with clichés and lack of resolve. All in all, a rather depressing story. In fact I stopped reading about half way through, and was glad I did after I read another online review. Reading the last few pages, all humanity is doomed! Most unenjoyable reading. I should have skipped it altogether as I felt like after a few pages into it.

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