Thursday, December 4, 2008

Review - Analog Dec 1996

Hi all,

I very much enjoyed the originality of the stories in the Dec 1996 issue of Analog. In fact, I think it is the most original set of six stories that I have read in a speculative fiction magazine.

A Replant Day Carol,
by John Vester started off the collection. It was a strange tale about the interactions between a planet's colonists and the local flora and fauna, and the frequently violent symbiotic relationship they had. It did rely on the contrivance that only one food source could be grown on the planet.

The Lily Gilders by Joseph H. Delaney (the only one of the six authors I had heard of) was a good industrial espionage story where giant water lilies are used to extract gold from sea water, causing a massive world glut in gold.

The Widower's Wife by Jayge Carr explored the consequences of a husband downloading the brain of his dying wife into a brain dead body. Their children didn't accept the stranger. The story relied on some contrived laws, that I doubt would ever he enforced if this future technology came into being, but it still explored some interesting issues.

The Best is Yet to Come by H.G. Stratman, threatened to be the least original, with a husband wanting to take advantage of new technology to extend his life, while his religious wife just wanted nature to take its course. I have read a lot of similar with the theme of religion versus science, but perhaps we need more, especially in parts of the US where the understanding of science seems to be going backward due to an increase in the unquestioning adherence to ignorant preaching that has propaganda like Intelligent Design on the rise.

The Shaper by Rick Shelley seemed like fantasy until a twist at the end. It was the least memorable of the stories. I find that a lot of stories that have twists are all set-up for the twist, so unless the twist absolutely astounds a reader, which this one didn't, the story is very easily forgotten.

The last, and for me the best, story was Gerry Boomers by A.J. Austin and Daniel Hatch. It told of the effects on neighbours after a EMP pulse from an exploding satellite fries the circuits in most electrical items in a region of the U.S. Its theme is similar to one in the novel I am writing of the effects on humans when they lose their technology, so I took interest in how he had his neighbours reacting.

All the stories were well written, and none of them had me pulling out the dictionary. Overall, I would give the issue of Analog 3 and 1/2 stars out of five.


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