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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Analog, January/February 2005

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"The Stonehenge Gate (Part I)" by Jack Williamson
"Seventy-Five Years" by Michael A. Burstein
"Rough Draft" by Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta
"The Supersonic Zeppelin" by Ben Bova
"Mars Opposition" by David Brin
"Nova Terra" by Jeffery D. Kooistra
"Uncreated Night and Strange Shadows" by James Gunn
"A Few Good Men" by Richard A. Lovett

ImageThe January/February 2005 issue of Analog is a double-issue; it leads off with the first part of Jack Williamson's serial "The Stonehenge Gate," which we will leave unreviewed, as is Tangent's policy.

"Seventy-Five Years" by Michael A. Burstein
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Michael A. Burstein extrapolates from several different current events, both scientific and sociological, in "Seventy-Five Years" to look at the world of 2098. Although mostly comprised of two people, Senator Peter Fitzgerald and his ex-wife, Isabel, talking about legislative issues. Nevertheless, the story grabs the reader by intelligently discussing various issues and showing how they relate to each other. In a short space, Burstein successfully builds two characters with a history. While the ending of the story seems a little too pat, it doesn't really detract from the extrapolation which drives the story.

"Rough Draft" by Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta
Reviewed by Chris Markwyn
Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta's "Rough Draft" uses the same setting as Anderson's "The Bistro of Alternate Realities" in the June 2004 Analog, a world where the Alternitech corporation trawls through alternate timelines, searching for valuables: new medical treatments; new technologies; even, apparently, unrecorded Carpenters albums. In this case, one of their researchers has come up with an unpublished, and indeed unwritten, novel by sf writer Mitchell Coren, who stopped writing after his first novel won both the Hugo and the Nebula. The researcher is a fan of Coren's book, and sends his find to Coren, who is disturbed and frightened by this intrusion. At first he wants nothing to do with the book, but its mere existence upsets his carefully dull life.

Alternitech can certainly serve as a fruitful story generator, and the idea that, given such a technology, someone would end up looking for the unwritten novels of nearly every author who ever wrote is pleasing. But the psychology is so shallow and the plot so mechanical, that I found reading this store a bit of a chore.

"The Supersonic Zeppelin" by Ben Bova
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
While Zeppelins have long been a favorite of the alternate history set, "The Supersonic Zeppelin," by Ben Bova, is straight science fiction. Lamenting the death of the Concorde, a group of engineers trying to save their company hit on the idea for a Zeppelin which can attain supersonic speeds. Although the idea of a supersonic Zeppelin is based on reality, the point of the story is less to examine the manner in which the technological achievements than to present a dry satire on the manner in which technological advances are linked to politics. Against this background, Bova presents quirky characters for whom the reader can root, although his narrator is the least sympathetic character in the tale as he tries to figure the angles and advance his own career.

"Mars Opposition" by David Brin
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Myriad people submitted their names to a file which was sent to Mars aboard the Mars Exploration Rovers Opportunity and Spirit as a way of demonstrating their support of Martian exploration. In "Mars Opposition," David Brin portrays the results of that highly symbolic act. The story provides the sense of H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, as Martians land in the United States and wreak a strange havoc. Just as Wells' aliens moved inexorably across the English countryside, so do Brin's Martians move with abandon across the United States, but where Wells offered hope amidst the destruction, Brin's outcome is much more bleak, for the human race as a whole and as individuals.

"Nova Terra" by Jeffery D. Kooistra
Reviewed by Michael Gabriel Bailey
Jeffery D. Kooistra shows true mastery of the art of opening a short story in his tale, "Nova Terra." Kooistra's opening is quiet and confident--even dreamlike. The opening creates history and uses imagery that helps the reader begin to care about the characters. Then, in the sixth paragraph, the author sinks his hooks securely into the reader: "But I heard about his death from my mom, she having heard it from his mom, crying over the fence separating our boyhood backyards." The arrival of a mysterious letter from Wes Carl's deceased friend, Mike Williamson, launches Wes into a journey of discovery, the "new world" mentioned in the story's title. Kooistra creates tension effectively as Wes dodges special agents in his clandestine efforts to recreate Mike's work, and the author does not neglect the human elements of storytelling, as he describes Wes' sympathetic wife, Eve, and Mike's grieving mother, Clara. I don't know whether the author intended the women's names to be a play upon their role in the story. Eve seems an interesting name for the woman who supports Wes' journey into the "new world," and the Clara character brought clarity to Wes' quest for truth. If the names were unintentional, they seem an interesting coincidence. Kooistra's work is one of the best short stories I have seen in Analog in months, and I hope this is the start of a trend for the magazine.

"Uncreated Night and Strange Shadows" by James Gunn
Reviewed by Chris Markwyn
Having published his first story in 1949, James Gunn would normally have the longest career among the writers in a particular issue; in this case, Jack Williamson has him beaten by twenty-one years. (Throw in Ben Bova, who's been publishing since 1959, and that's 176 years of writing sf!) Gunn here adds to his series which began with "The Giftie" in 1999, about a group of people who discover plans for an actual starship hidden in a book on UFOs. In this story they've built the starship, flown it through a wormhole, and ended up at a seemingly dead planet, where hundreds of other starship have already landed. What was the purpose of the plans? Who were the aliens and where have they gone? Such questions are batted about for most of the story, until a computerized analog of the man who originally discovered the plans provides a lengthy recap of the last two billion years of alien history.

Gunn's story is talky to an extreme, and virtually actionless; the characters spend a lot of time trudging up and down empty tunnels, discovering nothing, and then talking about what they didn't find. Much of the talk is interesting enough, but this story doesn't work particularly well on its own.

"A Few Good Men" by Richard A. Lovett
Reviewed by Michael Gabriel Bailey
"A Few Good Men" by Richard A. Lovett was a barely fair, and slightly long story about womankind's search for decent mates amidst the threat of a male-decimating plague and a time traveling male kidnapping business model. If that last seems like an unlikely mouthful, it accurately reflects my feeling about the plot in Lovett's story. The main character, Tiffany, is accidentally transported into the future when she foils a kidnapping attempt. Her heroics are for naught, as the male she was attempting to save is snatched anyway, and she finds herself hundreds of years in the future, where a high-tech "dating" service is poring over records from the past and kidnapping likely male mates in an effort to forestall a gender imbalance caused by a future plague. For convoluted pseudo-scientific reasons, Tiffany is kept in the future as a therapist of sorts for recent kidnap victims. Eventually Dannette, a woman who Tiffany befriends, is overcome with remorse at the unethical nature of Tiffany's captivity, and a growing distaste for the way the kidnap business is run, and events come to a head. Lovett glosses over many of the difficulties inherent in the time-travel trope, such as paradox. The author's breezy explanations would be acceptable if they refocused the story on a solid plot and good characterization instead of lingering on nit-picky sci-fi stuff, but I found the plot to be full of holes, and the characters, especially Dannette and Ngawa, to be highly unlikely. I was hoping for some nice technical explanations to lose myself in so I could forget about the flaws in the story. One interesting concept that I had not seen before in a time-travel story was that of the "Bubble," a temporal anomaly in which the kidnappers were based. The "Bubble" seemed to operate out of normal time, allowing the kidnappers to watch the effects of a victim's disappearance, travel back to make repairs in the time stream, and only then release the kidnapped person into future society. While I was not a fan of the plot or characters, I felt that Lovett's writing itself flowed well, and that Lovett was effective in creating visual images with his words. Unfortunately, the story required more than that to function as a coherent and effective whole for me.