As I mentioned earlier I am behind schedule on my reading queue. Of course, the same day I finished reading Analog's September issue I got the new one (and Asimov's) in the mail. Well that's life; I got to find a way to get advance copies... I need more time!
Usually, I do not review the non-fiction portion of the magazines but this time I have to make an exception, especially since the rest of the issue is quite lukewarm.
Analog has a new editor, Trevor Quachri; he decided to start with a loud bang. The dude's got balls. September's issue concludes a two-month editorial that goes by the title "The Blame Game" (Part 1 issue #8; Part 2 issue #9) on the possible effects of science-fiction on the general population. Mr. Quachri does not look for middle ground and he is not afraid of mentioning Sandy Hook Elementary's tragedy. The first part is mainly about data research and some basics information. The second part is a jab on most of the common misconceptions about video game, literary and movie violence. I think it is a very important reading. One observation is that he focuses mainly on the direct relationship of media violence to real world violence and does not mention indirect effects. One example that pops to mind is that of a less sensitive population. Is it possible that if the general population becomes visually and mentally used to violence then less and less preventive measures will be taken, such as better - I repeat, BETTER, not necessarily stronger - gun laws, more research, etc. ? However, kudos to the editor especially since he does not force himself to be politically correct.
Let's go to the not-so-good fiction in this "meh-ish" issue.
"Murder on the Aldrin Express" by Shoemaker could've been good. Actually, it could've been great. Unfortunately it is not good enough to be convincing since the reader will have the feeling of been cheated. I read it only once, but I don't think that as a reader I ever had the opportunity to know what happened, to solve the mystery. Being a murder mystery, this is a shame. The story is good, the characters are okay, the plot is not the best but it's at least consistent. It's a shame that the investigator, Nick, knew something the reader didn't.
"The Whale God" by Nevala-Lee. I don't have a clue on why this story is in this magazine. It is based in Vietnam and the sci-fi in it is too weak. Too much fantasy-like stuff, a lot of religious beliefs and just a small mention of technology.
"The Oracle" by Lavie Tidhar is just confusing. Locus' Tilton agrees.
"Full Fathom Five" by Pitkin. Well, if you find life on the jovian moon Europa you are going to make news. But if this life is a giant penis, then you might not want to share the news! Actually an interesting story on dream vs. reality. I am sorry that the director of the movie "Europa Report" (which coincidentally I watched the night before reading this story; I did not like it) did not have the guts to do something like that.
"Life of the Author Plus Seventy" by Kenneth Schneyer is the gem of this issue! If you ever had to fight one of those automated phone systems and/or automated email replies then you are going to love this piece. It's a fun read. Thank you Mr. Schneyer, for making this issue much better.
"Creatures From a Blue Lagoon" by Liz J. Andersen is a piece that just bore me to death.
ToC according to Analog Sicence Fiction & Fact website:
MURDER ON THE ALDRIN EXPRESS, Martin L. Shoemaker
THE WHALE GOD, Alec Nevala-Lee
THE ORACLE, Lavie Tidhar
FULL FATHOM FIVE, Joe Pitkin
LIFE OF THE AUTHOR PLUS SEVENTY, Kenneth Schneyer
CREATURES FROM A BLUE LAGOON, Liz J. Andersen
WRECK SUPPORT, Arlan Andrews, Sr.
THE EVAPORATION OF WORLDS, Kevin Walsh
FROM IDEA TO STORY (OR WHY “HIGH CONCEPT” IS ONLY THE BEGINNING), Richard A. Lovett
EDITORIAL: THE BLAME GAME, PART II, Trevor Quachri
IN TIMES TO COME
THE ALTERNATE VIEW, Jeffery D. Kooistra
THE REFERENCE LIBRARY, Don Sakers
UPCOMING EVENTS, Anthony Lewis