Analog Science Fiction and Fact May 2011

Analog May 2011

Analog May 2011 cover

I finished the May issue of Analog. I enjoyed it, as I have enjoyed all the issues of Analog that I have read. This issue will not be in the top Analog issues ever published, but I still had a good time reading it. The cover art is by John Allemand and is representative of the novella “Tower of Worlds” by Rajnar Vajra (that is a very difficult name to remember and type).  The artwork for the cover is fairly decent, I think, and it did help my imaginings of the novella. Allemand’s done a few other covers for Analog and for Asimov’s. (Cp. Asimov’s June 2005 cover)

CONTENTS (fiction only) and my rating:

Tower of Worlds – Rajnar Vajra – 2 *’s

Ellipses – 3 *’s

Blind Spot – 4 *’s

Boumee and the Apes -3 *’s

The Wolf and the Panther Were Lovers -3 *’s

The Old Man’s Best – 3 *’s

What I Did On My Summer Vacation – Jerry Oltion – 2 *’s

I wanted to really like the novella by Vajra, but in the end, I had to admit that most of it was so in media res and so unfamiliar that the story ends up confusing and frustrating. Obviously, basic story elements are present: characters, a climax, a resolution. However, try as I might, I could not get a hold of the world that was being presented. I suspect the “levels” are interesting and could be really neat, but from this novella, I was only frustrated. Also, it was at times somewhat difficult to figure out which characters were on which side. There are good guys and bad guys and I had to give up on trying to figure out anything further. This story had potential, but it just didn’t work as a novella.

Another disappoint was Jerry Oltion’s “What I Did On My Summer Vacation.”  This was the mini-1 page story in the issue. At first, there was a lot of potential. But the story ended with me feeling that Oltion is being old-fashioned and cynical. The story is kind of hack. The story itself is timely and relevant to current goings on in Geek-world, but the ending is so trite that its vexing. I was forced to look up a bio for Oltion – he was born in 1957.  It shows in this story. Through the years Oltion has been one of the major contributors to Analog. Yeah, I get Oltion’s point, but its hack.

“Blind Spot” is the intellectual read of the issue – and of interest to the readers whose take on the mind is materialist and scientific. Possibilities….. And its couched in a cool private investigator/detective story. A solid read.

The goodness of “The Old Man’s Best” by Bud Sparhawk was that it actually made me want to have a beer. Its a bit of a light-hearted story and was a fun read.  “Boumee and the Apes” (by Ian McHugh) was the emotive story of the issue, tugging at heart strings. Both stories were pretty good reads, making the issue worth the cover price.

MEAN: 2.857
MODE:  3

Analog Science Fiction and Fact April 2011

Analog April 2011

Analog April 2011 cover

I finished the April 2011 issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact.  Every issue I read makes me truly love these little issues more and more.  There is just something incredibly loveable about their size and contents. I love that its all science fiction stories.  But interspersed are actual hard science articles and snippets that deal with real concepts, anecdotes, and ideas.  I also like the editor’s letters and the listing and recommendations of newly published science fiction works.  Basically, Analog is the best thing (or one of the top five) in the magazine industry.

This issue was much better than the previous issue that I read through.  The cover art was done by Jean-Pierre Normand.  Normand has done many other covers for Analog as well as Asimov’s Science Fiction.

CONTENTS (fiction only) and my rating

Hiding Place – 3 *s

Ian’s Ions and Eons  –  4*s

The Flare Weed  –  5*s

Small Penalties  –  3*s

Two Look at Two  –  3*s

Blessed are the Bleak  –  2*s

Remembering Rachel  –  3*s

Quack  –  3*s

Balm of Hurt Minds  –  3*s

By far my favorite story was Larry Niven’s “The Flare Weed.”   Interestingly, this “story” is only two pages in the issue.  (Or one page, if you like.)   Niven’s contribution had the utmost wit, frivolity, science, and seriousness all wrapped up in an easy-to-read catchy story.   Niven is a master of science fiction, and it was a joy to get this little snippet from him in this issue.

The first story, “Hiding Place,” was unique and curious.  It was written by Adam-Troy Castro.  Apparently he used concepts and storylines from this story before in other works.  It was a little darker than I normally read; however, I think that it has a lot of potential.  I was glad to be introduced to this world by the author even if I did not give it 5 stars.

The story “Ian’s Ions and Eons” is a really good story if you enjoy time-travel and the ethics thereof.  Do not think that this is merely an ethical digression, though. The story is interesting and I think it was the second best of the issue.  It was written by Paul Levinson – who is a well-published author and commentator in the media (from NPR and CBS to the History Channel and all sorts of newspapers). He is also a professor at Fordham University.  Anyway, reading this story makes me want to read some of his actual fiction novels that have been published by TOR publishers.

Of the remaining stories, the one most noteworthy was Jerry Oltion’s “Quack.”  Again, Oltion is a well-published author (in fact, he had a story in last month’s Analog issue).   I liked this story quite a bit because I think that it describes the personalities and attitudes among doctors and scientists as well as the influence of the media very accurately.   It provided a surprising point of view and I recommend reading this story to anyone who is in the fields of religion or medicine.  Just because.

Finally, although I prefer not to discuss the non-fiction articles and snippets in Analog, I have to make an exception this month.  I really liked Jeffery D. Kooistra’s article for the section:  The Alternate View.  He wrote a snippet about “AUTHOR FALLS IN LOVE WITH E-READER.”  One of the reasons that I am praising this article is that a week after I read it, I was still thinking about it.  It is also quite well written – engaging and interesting.  And, most importantly, its causing me to re-examine my opinions regarding e-readers, the future of literature, and human knowledge. That’s a good article.

MEAN:  3.22
MODE:  3

Analog Science Fiction and Fact March 2011

Analog March 2011

Analog March 2011 cover

I finally finished reading the March 2011 issue of Analog.  I have to say that it was not as good as the first issue I had read, and that may account for my slow reading of this issue.  There are 8 stories contained in this issue.

Contents (fiction only) and my rating:
Rule Book  – 1 star
Falls the Firebrand  – 2 stars
Hiding from Nature   -2 stars
Julie is Three  -3 stars
Timeshare  – 4 stars
Astronomic Distance, Geologic Time   – 3 stars
Taboo   – 2 stars
Betty Knox and Dictionary Jones   – 4 stars

The first story, “Rule Book,” started out interesting me, but it was very long and went absolutely nowhere. I suppose some argument could be made discussing the utility and purpose of robots in the future.  However, overall, the story was just too long, too boring, and too uninteresting to be given a good rating from me.  I think reading this story as the first in the issue somewhat tainted my enthusiasm for reading the rest of the issue.  Overall, the story seemed to shift its focus a lot and the ending was just downright rotten.

The second story “Falls the Firebrand” had a lot of potential, but it ended up just being a dull entry.  After having read the first two stories, I was somewhat disappointed.

The third and fourth stories were a bit better, though not by much.  They were rather dismal in tone, though.  I felt that “Julie is Three” was unique, but just not fascinating.

The next little writing piece was “Timeshare” (a one page “story”).  This was one of the best pieces in the book.  It was perfect for what it is – a quick one-page read that had just enough wit to it.

I really don’t know what to say about Jerry Oltion’s contribution to this issue “Taboo.”  I guess I expected better from him.  He’s a good writer – that much is obvious. However this story is definitely taboo. (Its not graphic or vile, don’t be misled.) But I just really didn’t like this at all. I gave it two stars because the writing is definitely among the best in the issue.

The last story is easily the prize of the issue and is fun and well worth reading.  There are elements of crime, love, and time travel – which makes this story super. Reading this story and “Timeshare” are really the only worthwhile reads, but that being said, they are indeed worthwhile and probably shouldn’t be passed over.

I believe that the cover art is taken from the story “Falls the Firebrand.”  I wish the story was as interesting as the cover depicts.

MEAN:  2.625
MEDIAN:  2.5
MODE:  2

Analog Science Fiction and Fact January/February 2011

Analog Jan/Feb 2011

Analog Jan / Feb 2011

I picked up Analog in early December, I think, and I finished it last night. It was a double-issue – which was really nice. It was a huge read for me. And I have been really interested in sci-fi short stories lately.

I enjoyed reading this issue quite a bit. I think it was excellent – and I was not so sure what to expect.

Contents (fiction only) and my rating:
At Cross Purposes – 5 stars
The Unfinished Man – 3 stars
A Snitch in Time – 2 stars
Some of them Closer – 1 star
Enigma – 3 stars
The First Conquest of Earth – 3 stars
Out There – 2 stars
Stay – 4 stars
Non-Native Species – 3 stars
Multivac’s Singularity – 3 stars
The Frog Prince – 4 stars
The First Day of Eternity – 3 stars

The first story was the best in the book and it was also good enough to have me reflect on it months after having read it.  “At Cross Purposes” was written by Juliette Wade and it was easily 5 stars. Like several of the stories in this issue, this story deals with the interaction of different cultures/species, particularly with more animal characteristics.  I loved all of the concepts that Wade was using here – purpose, linguistic communication, etc.  The concept of purpose is so philosophically cool that I give the author kudos just for using it. It was a little difficult to start reading – since the writing style is so different. It grew on me, though. This would be a fantastic story to develop into a huge series of books. I would love to get to know all the species and characters a lot better. This was well done.

“The Unfinished Man” and “A Snitch in Time” were okay. They were overall typical sci-fi fare. The former was interesting because it toyed lightly with some psychology. The latter involved time travel, which is always interesting, but I didn’t really like the ending.

“Some of Them Closer” was the only loser in this issue. I really found it to be quite pointless and not very good.

“Enigma” had a lot of neat concepts especially the concept of engineered DNA to enhance species. The exploration of the unique enigma planet also was interesting and I liked it – probably because I liked the concept of history/knowledge/posterity.  The main character was also pretty cool – though when I first met her I was skeptical.

“Stay” once again utilized the mixture of animals and humans and this was an excellent stand alone short story. I really enjoyed it and found it unique and surprising. Even the title was fun and fitting.  I liked the interactions between the characters a lot.  This was a fun world to imagine – and I also wanted to imagine it with characters other than canines…..

“The Frog Prince” was also very good and probably should not be expanded – although I can see many places wherein it could become a novel or a series of novels. I think it should stay as a short story because the self-contained storyline was complex enough to make it seem like just a glimpse into this strange universe on board a ship.  The main character(s) with his MPD, of sorts, was absolutely fascinating.  I loved hearing the different personalities interacting and working on problems and ideas together. This is such a cool concept that it was fun to imagine (hence the impulse to expand the story), but I think too much could be made of it and then ruin the uniqueness of this character. Assassins and MPD and hurtling through space – all that I hope for in sci fi!

“The First Day of Eternity” was a rather long story to get through. I feel that it could have been shorter, because I read it for quite awhile, the longest read in the issue.  I did not like the ending. I would not change the substance of the ending, but I might have added a few things. Its hard to explain. I feel like a lot of time was spent telling us about the culture onboard the Diaspora ship, then we slogged through the colonization of the planet (Earth 2), and then the decision was made wherein the Diaspora IS the Promised Land (i.e. Eternity).  The interactions of the A.I. ship were okay, nothing too unique there. But the rollers (little characters native to Earth 2) were really cool – but we didn’t get to learn enough about them, which was disappointing.  And the ending just kind of happened; and I feel I spent too much effort reading the story to get a flat ending.

MEAN:  3
MODE:  3