Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2014

Reviewed date: 2017 Dec 10
112 pages
cover art

Championship B'Tok
by Edward M. Lerner
This is a sequel to The Matthews Conundrum from November 2013, but clearly there's a lot of backstory that we're missing. Years ago, aliens (the Snakes) tried to invade the solar system. The Snakes were defeated, and the survivors live in an isolated colony on Ariel, a moon of Uranus. Now, the United Planet (UP) liaison so the Snakes, Carl Rowland, is trying to figure out what the Snakes are up to. What they are up to is they've built a secret robot army hidden on an asteroid, and they're about to take another shot at conquering Earth. But there's an even bigger mystery. Someone has been synchronizing civilizations around the galaxy: speeding up development in some, slowing it down in others, to usher dozens, perhaps hundreds or thousands, of worlds into achieving spaceflight and interstellar capabilities at approximately the same time.

Plastic Thingy
by Mark Niemann-Ross
Roger works at a hardware store. When a girl drops in asking to buy a red plastic thingy, Roger indulges her and tries to help. He finds himself whisked off to a spaceship where he meets an intelligent plant who's trying to fix the spaceship's broken something-or-other. And yep, they need some sort of plastic red tubing. Roger jerry-rigs a fix, and Sara and the plant engineer offer him a place on the ship. He declines.

Beneath the Ice of Enceladus
by James C. Glass
For three generations Anna's family has looked for alien life. Now Anna has a short time to explore an under-ice lake on Enceladus. Quakes and mechanical difficulties cost them valuable exploration time, but finally the sub is ready and they explore the bottom of the lake. Yep, she finds life growing around an under-sea vent.

by Jacob A. Boyd
Short story
A second-person account of a fighter pilot facing the alien Tivhari. I found this story incomprehensible and unsatisfying. There's something about a stasis bubble that the main character uses to trap both himself and an alien Tivhari ship that is trying to ram into him.

Vladimir Chong Chooses to Die
by Lavie Tidhar
Short story
In a world where everyone lives basically forever, Vladimir Chong chooses to die because he's suffering from a condition where memories of his ancestors and descendents leak into his own. The chaos of memories overwhelms him, to the point where he is a prisoner of memory, living past events over and over, and only rarely surfacing into the present reality. He's particularly distressed because these memories leaking into his mind are robbing him of the ability to remember things precious to him, such as his late wife's name. So he chooses to die--via roller coaster, apparently. An intense, specially-designed super-speed suicide roller coaster accelerates him and crushes him to death, and at that very moment he recalls his wife's name: Aliyah.

by Naomi Kritzer
Short story
When Mandy breaks up with her boyfriend, she swears off men. Instead, she upgrades her housekeeper robot, names him Joe, and brings him to game night as her new man. Her friends rebel at first, but gradually accept Joe and he becomes a fixture at game night. (He's not very good at Diplomacy, but he does try.) Then Mandy gets a new boyfriend. She stops coming to game night (he doesn't like it) but Joe keeps coming. When Mandy trades Joe in for a different model (I guess her boyfriend was jealous) her friends realize they don't much miss (or like) Mandy, but Joe was a good friend.

by Alec Austin & Marissa Lingen
Short story
The Gammans are candidates for joining The Unification, a really awesome galactic organization of uplifted species. It's an exclusive club--humans were only allowed to join after being fitted with implanted Proctors, little devices that monitor stress hormones and help humans control their emotions. The Gammans take emotional outbursts to the extreme: they experience shornoth, periods of intense, violent outbursts often accompanied by wanton property destruction and even murder. These periods are valued for their utility in sparking creativity and problem-solving, so the Gammans have a complex system of clan accounting in order to settle accounts for damages resulting from shornoth--so much for damaged property, so much for a lost limb, so much for a life, etc.

The Unification will not accept the Gammans unless they agree to be fitted with Proctors that prevent shornoth. The Gammans consider shornoth an integral part of their personal, social, and cultural identity.

It's the humans who offer a solution: the Gammans will wear modified Proctors that allow them to control when and where shornoth happens. They can keep their creativity that comes from shornoth, but avoid the messiness of property destruction and violence that results from shornoth at inconvenient times.

by Kate Gladstone

Saturn's Jet-Propelled Moon and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
by Richard a. Lovett
Science Fact

These Are Not the Drones You're Looking for
by Trevor Quachri

Alternate View: Myers-Briggs and I
by Jeffrey D. Kooistra
Alternate View
Writers can use the Myers-Briggs personality types to create interesting, realistic characters.

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