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Analog Science Fiction and Fact, February 1999

Analog, February 1999
The pages of Astounding/Analog have been home to many of science fiction's foremost writers and stories. Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Spider Robinson, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Michael F. Flynn are just a few of the prominent names which have often appeared there. Their stories have also won many Hugo and Nebula Awards, and such classics as Frank Herbert's Dune and Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight first appeared in Analog.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steve Lazarowitz

Analog has been one of the mainstays of SF publishing. It is one of the three SF magazines that has been around long enough to be considered a classic. At least, it's one of the three that are still publishing.

Analog's reputation is built on hard SF. I am happy to say that the reputation is well deserved. In this issue, there were three novelettes, three short stories, a short humor piece, and a science fact article, in addition to the regular columns.

I was happy to see a novelette by Ben Bova. I met Mr. Bova at a meeting of my high school SF club back in the late 70s, and have been a fan ever since. Thus it was with great anticipation that I read "Mount Olympus." This story was both entertaining and scientifically sound. I almost felt as if I were on Mars, exploring the highest mountain in the solar system with the main characters. This is a story of man's need to brave new worlds and the price that is sometimes paid. I was delighted to find out that this is an excerpt from an upcoming book entitled Return to Mars. Once again, Mr. Bova has earned my respect and admiration.

In fact, all of the fiction in the issue was top notch.

"Vultures" by Stephen L. Burns was an excellent tale, set in the near future. I've always enjoyed SF stories based on sound biology: perhaps because there are so few of them, Relatively speaking (pun intended). Is Dr. Blackfeather a charlatan, or can he really cure the world's most incurable diseases? An interesting look at alternative medicine and the scams that surround it.

"Circles of Light and Shadow" by Christopher McKitterick is a brilliant tale of quantum physics gone awry. When a tachyon generator blurs the lines between parallel universes, anything can happen and if it continues, the entire universe might soon come to an end. I found this tale to be particularly satisfying, incorporating not only science, but character emotions that called out to me. For in addition to the tachyon problem, the leader of the project has a personal demon to put to rest.

"Found in Space" by David J. Strumfels is another interesting piece, though perhaps not as poignant for me as the rest of the issue. I found it interesting on an intellectual level, but didn't feel enough tension to make this short story stand out.

"Odysseus" by John G. Henry is standard SF fare, though well written to be sure. It brings up a couple of excellent points about the legal status of space wrecks in the future and also touches upon the heroic nature of humanity.

The only piece that could be construed as humorous, "A Solution to the Orbital Debris Problem" by Marianne J. Dyson, was an entertaining little story that shows that we may have more in common with our alien counterparts than we might first think.

The final story, "Nor A Lender Be" by James Van Pelt is a tale of teacher who ends up selling the only thing of importance in his life. This wonderfully haunting tale is a must-read. In fact, it may be my favorite piece in the issue, though both "Vultures and Circles of Light" and "Shadow" are up there as well.

While I loved the fiction, I found the science article ("Digital Matter" by Stephen L. Gillet Ph.D.) a bit tedious. Not that it wasn't well written but, rather, it was over my head. The article did make some interesting points, but for me at least, it was a struggle to get through. I think I have to reread the book Alice in Quantumland.

Analog also includes a letters column, a book review section and the obligatory convention calendar. The editorial by Dr. Stanley Schmidt was excellent and I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments. In fact, after I finish writing this review, I intend to shoot him off a reply and congratulations for a job well done.

Copyright © 1999 Steve Lazarowitz

Steve Lazarowitz reads and writes fantasy and SF. His work has been published in a number of online 'zines and he is the editor of the Dragonclaw Showcase. His short story anthology A Creative Edge: Tales of Speculation is due out from Domhan Books in 1999.

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