Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2007
I loathe Stanley Schmidt. How I loathe him. He's been getting more overtly offensive in every issue. This time, he publishes an eloquent letter from a reader who points out the liberal partisan bias in Analog. The reader brings up some valid points, and I hoped that Schmidt would respond. He does--essentially saying "I'm sorry you feel that way, idiot. I guess you're not one of the elite." If Schmidt thinks that he's addressed the problem, he's got a surprise coming. If I hadn't already renewed my subscription, I would have deliberately let it lapse after reading his response. It's one thing to have a liberal bias and ignore any complaints. It's quite another to print a reasonable letter detailing the problems, and then dismiss them with smug insults.
I didn't find any stories in this issue compelling. I normally enjoy the Black Hole Project stories, but Vertex is too confusing. I don't remember who is who, or who wants what, and the writers assumed that I'd remember those details from reading the previous stories. I don't, and so Vertex is a mass of meaningless action. Kind of fun, but ultimately I couldn't enjoy it.
Some Distant Shore is even worse. I still don't know what happened in that story. Ginger Ear and Elephant Hair is based on a tired, used-up idea: primitive future people tell stories about the ignorance of the ancient people who used technology to do horrible things and wreck the world. Palimpsest is dumb but mercifully short. A Plutoid By Any Other Name is comedy. I hate science fiction comedy even when it's funny, and this isn't funny. It's just dumb.
The only decent story was Stranger Things, and even it is only interesting for a few pages. Nothing is ever explained--we don't know why parallel universes are leaking through, or why it's only people who are slipping in.
- Novella: Vertex, by C. Sanford Lowe & G. David Nordley - The Black Hole Project reaches completion, but there's one more hurdle: keep the bad guys from stealing the mini black hole and using its power to rule the galaxy.
- Novella: Some Distant Shore, by Dave Creek - Humans and various alien races watch the destruction of a solar system--planets crashing into each other and so forth--and one or more of the alien races has some ulterior motive for being here.
- Novelette: Ginger Ear and Elephant Hair, by Uncle River - The storyteller drones on and on about how back in the old days the people had big cities and technology, and they did strange, unfathomable, horrible things--like use the Ginger Ear to create hairy elephants--the elephants that eat our gardens today! That's why we can't have nice things.
- Novelette: Stranger Things, by E. Mark Mitchell - A man walks into a bar and finds identical decaplets. They're from alternate universes; some sort of slippage is happening, which our heroes must solve.
- Short story: Palimpsest, by Howard V. Hendrix - A perfect solution to futuristic spam results in blotting out the universe, sort of like The Nine Billion Names of God.
- Short story: A Plutoid By Any Other Name, by Richard A. Lovett - More SF humor. First Pluto is declared to no longer be a planet. Later, Neptune gets booted. By the end, our universe is informed that it no longer counts as a universe.
- Science fact: Beyond This Point Be RFIDs, by Edward M. Lerner - RFIDs are the future--no, they're the present--and as they become ubiquitous they will make everything in the world trackable and traceable. Imagine cash registers that use RFIDs embedded in currency to tally up their contents.