Minor Thoughts

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

Review: Analog, July 2014 [★★★☆☆]

Analog, July 2014

Analog, July 2014
by Trevor Quachri

My rating: ★★★☆☆
Read From: 27 May 2014 – 7 June 2014
Goal: Flotsam & Jetsam

This is Analog’s annual double-issue. It certaintly was packed with content.

Novella

The Journeyman: Against the Green by Michael F. Flynn—The continuing story of Teodorq and Sammi. This time, they’re serving in the foreign legion of the hill people, scouting westward. They’re continuing to look for the descendants of the crew of the crashed shuttle that they’d encountered in an earlier story.

I enjoyed reading it. It wasn’t spectacular but it was solid and entertaining.

Novelettes

Who Killed Bonnie’s Brain? by Daniel Hatch—Our narrator is Frank Adams, a reporter. He wrote the obituary for Bonnie Bannister, a computer scientist who died at 107. That would be a remarkable age, if it wasn’t for the fact that Bonnie had been living as a disembodied brain for the last 13 years. As a living brain, she could have been expected to live for many more years.

Bonnie’s housemate, Judge Adams, is another disembodied brain. Fearing for his own safety, he asks Frank to investigate the cause of Bonnie’s death.

The story reminded me pleasantly of an Agatha Christie story. Frank Adams, as an investigator, is a less dithery, less flighty version of Miss Marple. He moves around, interviewing everyone involved with the case, before reaching his own conclusion. It was a very enjoyable story and brought back many good memories of reading Christie’s stories when I was younger.

The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale by Rajnar Vajra—A silver Venusian, a golden Martian, and an Earthling walk into bar—and promptly start a fight. Micah Cohen, Priam Galanas, and Emily Asgari are cadet Exoplanetary Explorers. Their accidental bar fight almost gets them tossed out of the academy.

As punishment, they’re sent to the site of a failed expedition and told to help dismantle it and bring the expedition home. Of course, they manage to get into more trouble and end up with an ultimatum: figure out how to save the failed expedition or be expelled.

This was another solid but unspectacular story. Judging by the title, Vajra wanted to write a homage to golden age SF. With Venusians, Martians, and weird alien flora and fauna, this story checked all the right boxes. It was pleasant enough but didn’t really do anything to make itself truly memorable.

Code Blue Love by Bill Johnson—Two siblings, bodies falling apart from genetic weaknesses, dying from massive aneurysms, race the clock to save themselves. It’ll take a healthcare AI and a bio medically engineered stent to do it, but it’s the only chance they have. This story brings new meaning to the term “interior monologue”.

Vooorh by Paula S. Jordan—A farmer and an injured, water dwelling alien must make common cause against a common enemy. They look different and have different values but they ultimately discover that hope is the a powerful, shared feeling.

Short Stories

Journeyer by R. Garrett Wilson—The Muuks need Jesper weed to make their moltings more bearable, helping to prevent infection and death from incessant scratching. Jo-abeel must run across the desert, the o’Le Bar, to find Jesper weed on the other side and bring it home. Without it, her sister will likely die from infection.

The Muuks reminded me of camels, in both physiology and environment. The setting was strange but Wilson did make me feel sympathy with Jo-abeel.

Valued Employee by James K. Isaac—The BlackSphere company has been slowly encroaching on the surrounding world. Asha Kass grew up in the outside world but has gradually become a valued employee, helping to extend the Black Sphere’s dominion—by force if necessary. Now, she returns home to convert her family and friends.

Sadness by Timons Esaias—Aliens, called the “New People” conquered earth years ago. They’ve gradually been compressing humanity into a smaller and smaller sphere, gradually changing everything about human culture and human lives to suit themselves. This is a story of small gestures against a backdrop of great sadness and anger.

Crimson Sky by Eric Choi—Maggie McConachie flies for the Mars Search and Rescue Service (MarsSAR). This is the story of one of her flights, to rescue a crashed billionaire, playboy pilot.

The Half-Toe Bar by Andrew Reid—Kuznetsova Bogdana is a mere technician on an expedition to explore the culture of a newly discovered world. She’s certainly not qualified to interact with the Locals! And, yet, her millwright skills are crucial to making a good impression on a Local blacksmith. She may get kicked off of the project, but she’ll make a contribution nonetheless.

Hot and Cold by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro—A married team of explorers, Davos and Xie Yalow, run into serious trouble while investigating a half-kilometer wide cylinder, composition unknown, that stretched for two hundred and fifty million kilometers and opened up on a black hole’s event horizon. They’ll need all of their skills and ingenuity to even have a chance to survive this encounter. They’ll also need to rely on each other. And, in the end, it may not matter. They may die alone anyway.

Science Fact

Spanking Bad Data Won’t Make Them Behave by Michael F. Flynn—A quick lessons on statistics and all of the ways in which “facts” can be very slippery things instead. A fact may exist on its own but it’s meaningless without surrounding context. It can be very tricky to put a fact (or measurement) into the correct context—as Flynn demonstrates over and over again.

Special Feature

Foreshadowing and the Ideas of March: How to (Sort Of) Hint at Things to Come by Richard A. Lovett—A survey of the various types of foreshadowing from the blatantly obvious to the nearly invisible and everything in-between. Lovett provides many examples to illustrate how proper foreshadowing can prepare the reader for your story, so as to prevent unnecessary confusion or disappointment.

Departments

The Alternate View by John G. Cramer—Is It Space Drive Time? Cramer argues that occasionally the time is just right for a technology to be invented. If one person doesn’t invent it, twenty-five others probably will. He thinks we may be getting close to the right time for the invention of better space drives and surveys the field for potential candidates. I sure hope he’s right.

My Take

I enjoyed The Journeyman: Against the Green, Who Killed Bonnie’s Brain?, Code Blue Love, The Half-Toe Bar, and Hot and Cold. The stories were enjoyable enough. I’m just not sure how memorable any of them will be. I’d already found my memory of them fading, before I went back and skimmed through the issue to write this review.

The non-fiction articles may suffer the same fate. I liked Flynn’s look at statistics and Lovett’s discussion of foreshadowing. I’m just not sure how much I’ll remember them a few weeks from now.

Overall, I’d have to call this an average issue.