Analog Science Fiction and Fact, March 2013
Stanley Schmidt is retiring as editor of Analog. Taking over is his right-hand man, Trevor Quachri. I'm a bit worried. Schmidt's editorials infuriate me, and his general attitude toward religion (and frankly, toward people in general) is both uncharitable and patronizing. But he puts out a good magazine. I hope Quachri can produce a magazine of similar quality while showing a more modern attitude toward religion and spirituality. Spirituality is a significant part of the human experience, and to treat it dismissively reflects poorly on science fiction as a genre.
And, uh, about that comment of Schmidt producing a good magazine? That doesn't apply to this issue. It's deplorable. Only The Firewall and the Door is remotely interesting. The other stories are disappointing and irritating.
- Novelette: Instinctive Response, by Bond Elam - Nick and Kate find derelict alien spacecraft floating around an unexplored silicon silicon giant. They explore the craft, then check the planet's surface to see if the aliens left any messages there--and are captured by the Cam. Kate's crimson bodysuit triggers a hostile instinctive response in the Cam chief, so Kate and Nick barter for their lives: Kate promises to cure the plague that is slowly killing the Cam. After days of research, she discovers the cause: it's not a pathogen, but rather a bit of junk DNA that has been activated by a mold spoor on the planet. And it's all too convenient: a DNA time bomb, activated by a spoor on a planet that shouldn't have been capable of supporting complex life. Kate wonders if everything--the junk DNA, the planet, the spoor, even the Cam race itself--has been engineered.
- Novelette: The Radioactive Etiquette Book, by Marissa Lingen - Diplomats find themselves in a crisis when a top secret diplomacy rule book is stolen, and three children are kidnapped.
- Novelette: The Firewall and the Door, by Sean McMullen - Mankind's first and only interstellar mission is jeopardized when Lieutenant Ashcroft deliberately sabotages the uncrewed craft by firing the explosive bolts to separate it from its protective shield.
- Short story: It's the End of the World As We Know It, by Harry Turtledove - In the future, humanity genetically engineered itself to be cuddly and cooperative.
- Short story: The Paragon of Animals, by Andrew Barton - Cassandra Warkworth raises and trains strewth as beasts of labor on the planet Esperanza, but has an attack of conscience when her favorite strewth shows evidence of intelligence and self-awareness by creating artwork.
- Short story: High Concept, by Barry Malzberg and Bill Pronzini - Writer and an editor arguing about whether it's a good idea to write a story lampooning the benevolent, philanthropic alien race that has recently visited Earth.
- Short story: The Snack, by Bud Sparhawk - Two sugar junkies date each other under the mistaken impression that the other is a health nut, and both struggle to portray a healthy lifestyle.
- Short-short: Pre-Pirates, by Don D'Ammassa - Teresa Grant has an unusual precognitive ability: she can read printed documents from the future. She turns it into a lucrative website that releases pirated copies of bestsellers before they are published--or even written.
- Science Fact: Spoof Worlds, by Kevin Walsh - Free oxygen is a good indicator that a world contains life, but there are inorganic processes that can result in atmospheric free oxygen.