Review: Analog: Science Fiction and Fact

Issue: September 2013

Normally I only review books, but this month I thought I would try something different. I got a gift card for Christmas and this month I used it to buy some science fiction magazines. I bought the current issues of Analog, and Fantasy and Science Fiction. This review is only going to cover Analog and next month I will review Fantasy and Science Fiction.

 

I started reading Analog last year mainly for the short fiction. This issue I really enjoyed for several reasons. The short story section was just perfect for me this month. My favorite of the three stories was “Life of the Author Plus Seventy” by Kenneth Schneyer. This story hit home with me on several levels. The story is narrated by the protagonist Eric Weiss a writer who published one novel with mediocre success. This novel becomes his downfall, but not in the way you would suspect with hilarious outcomes. I enjoyed the writers tone and development of the story. It was really easy to imagine that I was sitting next to Eric Weiss in a dingy bar as he retold me this story. The science in the story is hibernation and artificial intelligence.

 

The other two short stories are “Full Fathom Five” by Joe Pitkins and “Creatures from a Blue Lagoon” by Liz J. Anderson. “Full Fathom Five” is a good story with two female lead characters a human scientist, Maria, and an A.I intelligence Ariel. This story contemplates an interesting idea about coming into contact with a new alien and the possibility that by simply coming into contact with it you kill it. The A.I reminds me of Hal but not as creepy. This is a hard science story that centers on biology.  In “Creatures from a Blue Lagoon” Dr. Jesmuhr is an intergalactic veterinarian called on to help the Zarjassians when their food animal “Floobar” stops eating. This is another story with a female A.I intelligence. While this story isn’t as funny to me “Life of the Author Plus Seventy” there are some chuckle moments. It’s a good story with a female lead that represents strong women well (humans otherwise).

 

The Special Feature “From Idea to Story (or why “High Concept” is only the beginning)” by Richard A. Lovett hit on something that I had been pondering for several weeks, how to take science fiction ideas and make them into compelling stories. Science fiction stories must have the science fiction element as the key element of the story. While the concept is simple enough the execution is often where science fiction stories fail. For this article Lovett interviewed regular contributors to Analog for advice and suggestions which I found useful. For writers, I would highly recommend purchasing this issue of Analog if for no other reason than this article.

 

I started reading the Novella and the Novelettes but at the writing of this post I haven’t finished them. The Novella, “Murder on the Aldrin Express” by Martin L. Shoemaker is so far good. I’m a huge fan of mystery, so I was thrilled when I saw this story. Does the title remind you of another famous story? (Hint, Hint- Orient.) The Novelette “The Whale God” by Alec Nevala-Lee is also pretty good, but I’m not sure where the story is going.

 

I tried to read the Science Fact article “The Evaporation of Worlds” but it was too boring for me. It sounded like it probably has some really good information but I just couldn’t make it through the first column.

 

When I make it through the other stories I’ll add my comments to this post.

 

Cheers.

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