Analog, June 2016

Friday, 27 May 2016 16:54 Kevin P Hallett
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Analog, June 2016

The Journeyman: In the Great North Wood” by Michael F. Flynn

When the Stone Eagle Flies” by Bill Johnson
Hold the Moment” by Marie Vibbert
That Which Grows on Trees” by C. S. Lane
The Anthropic War” by Jay Werkheiser
The Nult Factor” by J. T. Sharrah
Murder on the Cislunar Railroad” by Christopher L. Bennett

Reviewed by Kevin P Hallett

The June 2016 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact has seven original stories. A novella, two novelettes, and four short stories.

The Journeyman: In the Great North Wood” by Michael F. Flynn

This science fiction novella is set in the distant future on another world. Humanity has colonized the planet and then abandoned the colonists. Over time, the cutoff humans have adapted to the different local environments.

In this setting, the protagonist, Teodorq, is a bodyguard from the losing side of a recent war. Hired by the winners, he agrees to organize the protection for an archeological exhibition into the Great North Wood. Here, he and the entire exhibition are attacked by the local forest men and seek shelter in an old command station left over from the original colonization period. To survive they must use their courage and wits to use the command station to repel the forest men.

Flynn displays a wide imagination in this lengthy story, but his story craft is not as strong. The story opens with a long setting of the scene. With new and strange terminology, the opening is hard to follow.

There is no strong sense of danger, mystery, or desire facing Teo, and no pull for the reader to read on. The story is a third complete before any real action begins. Overall a long, and at times, tedious read unless the reader has read the other stories in this series.

When the Stone Eagle Flies” by Bill Johnson

A science fiction novelette that spins the story of Martin, a time traveler trapped in the past and trying to find his way back. He works with another trapped traveler, Larry, to ensure history follows a timeline they both know will lead back to their respective futures. But can they overcome their own human foibles, which threaten to drag them away from their goals?

The story has a good pace and reads easily. Overall, this is well written, but it deals with a well-traveled science fiction subject.

Hold the Moment” by Marie Vibbert

Hold the Moment” is a science fiction short story set in the near future. A single mother, Marta, is developing a stasis machine. She struggles under pressure from academia to produce results and from her teenage daughter, to spend more time at home. After stumbling onto a reverse stasis machine, can she finally find that balance that will bring her some peace?

A different look at time travel, less practical, but still full of possibilities. Vibbert sets the scene in the first paragraph and the story moves quickly from there. A nice read.

That Which Grows on Trees” by C. S. Lane

This flash science fiction story warns the reader about what could happen if we bio-engineer trees to grow money. Even with good intentions, using the money to fund research to solve humanity’s problems, things go bad.

A little tongue-in-cheek story that at times gets bogged down in the details of how it’s done. Nonetheless, an interesting concept and story to read.

The Anthropic War” by Jay Werkheiser

Werkheiser’s short science fiction story explores the multiverse concept. What if another ‘anthropic’ universe began competing to establish their laws of physics on our universe? An interesting extension in a marginal area of scientific research. What tools would allow you to bolster your laws of physics over those of your anthropic enemies; failure would lead to us no longer existing–ever.

Though a very short story, the science is over-played in an effort to explain the challenging concepts, causing the story to slow down or become baffling in places.

The Nult Factor” by J. T. Sharrah

The reader will find here an interesting short SF story with an undercurrent of humor. It tells about a philosophical movement, begun on Earth, which says nothing is important because everything sums to zero. As this movement ripples out through the galaxy, it produces unexpected results and in the end, all the movement’s tendrils point back to Earth and the man who started it all.

Sharrah makes the multiple POV’s work well and its humor adds to the light and easy writing style. Overall, the story raised some new ideas and was a pleasant read.

Murder on the Cislunar Railroad” by Christopher L. Bennett

A science fiction murder mystery set in a future where AI’s have sentient rights. March is investigating the murder of a fellow crime investigator. As his investigation peels away the layers, we see some unexpected limitations to AI life forms. A ‘whodunit’ with several twists in its tail.

Bennett gives us a peek into the future, with some intriguing insights into the personality of an AI. The author's technical craft was okay, but lacked the immersive style that would have made it a recommended read.