Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2009

Reviewed date: 2010 Jun 28
112 pages
cover art

I am terribly disappointed in the conclusion of Turning the Grain. Longyear takes what could be an interesting story and turns it into a run-of-the-mill tale of the Modern Man Who Goes Native. Apparently, all Gordon Redcliff ever wanted was to settle down with a primitive cave woman and be a family man. What's more, he has no trouble with culture shock, he manages to figure out a foreign culture and act 100% appropriately. All of that is just shoddy writing, but understandable and forgivable. What's not understandable is the way Gordon heals the tribe's men of their premature impotence. Apparently the tribe's older men gnaw on a root to numb the aches and pains of growing old; the root causes impotence. Gordon figures this out and advises the men to give up the root. When they do, their virility returns within 24 hours.

Now that's just ridiculous. It's simply not possible that nobody in the tribe ever made the connection between the root and impotence. If the effects wear off in 24 hours, this means that nobody in the tribe had ever, ever gone more than 24 hours without the root. Really? Not even on a hunt, or when they were sick, or on a spiritual fast or something?

Gaping plot holes like that make it hard to take Turning the Grain seriously. Willing suspension of disbelief doesn't go that far.

From the Ground Up is really just an introduction to a story, not a story itself. I disapprove. Evergreen was interesting. Attitude Adjustment and The Last Resort are both great, hard science fiction stories. I wish all the stories in Analog were like those.

  • Serial (2 of 2): Turning the Grain, by Barry B. Longyear - After a time travel accident, Gordon Redcliff is stranded in the prehistoric past. He goes native, marries a local woman, and becomes a tribal chief.
  • Novelette: Evergreen, by Shane Tourtellotte - A genetically frozen man, who remains childlike in appearance, attempts to help another frozen woman escape from the confines of her home, where her parents still treat her like a child.
  • Novelette: The Last Resort, by Alec Nevala-Lee - Eco-terrorists bomb a placid crater lake to protest a proposed ski resort, but the bomb releases tons of carbon dioxide trapped within the crater lake, causing widespread death.
  • Short story: From the Ground Up, by Marie DesJardin - A NASA astronaut returns to her childhood home, where she once saw an alien UFO crashland in the field.
  • Short story: Attitude Adjustment, by Eric James Stone - An accident (sabotage!) turns a lunar sightseeing trip into a deadly race against time to get the spaceship turned at the proper direction and fire the main engine, before it crashed into the moon.
  • Science Fact: From Atlantis to Canoe-Eating Trees: Geomythology Comes of Age, by Richard A. Lovett - Looking for archaeological and geological evidence to explain events from mythology and folklore.

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