Jerry Oltion

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
MEDIAN:  3
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
MEDIAN:  3
MODE:  3