Analog, April 2011
“Hiding Place” by Adam-Troy Castro
“Ian’s Ions and Eons” by Paul Levinson
“The Flare Weed” by Larry Niven
“Two Look at Two” by Paula S. Jordan
“Blessed Are the Bleak” by Edward M Lerner
“Remembering Rachel” by Dave Creek
“Quack” by Jerry Oltion
“Balm of Hurt Minds” by Thomas R. Dulski
Reviewed by Bob Blough
I must say at the outset that I found the April issue of Analog to be, unfortunately, a very lackluster one.
The first story, “Hiding Place” by Adam-Troy Castro concerns three people who have become one mind in three bodies by undergoing the process of becoming “cylinked.” It’s a locked room murder mystery involving the killing of a scientist named Aman Al-Afiq. The cylinked threesome and Aman are working on a top secret project in a space habitat far removed from any possible interference, and serves as the location for the murder. The idea of cylinkage between people is interesting, if not new. The main character, Andrea, is brought into the case by an old friend to resolve the murder. The story was an interesting enough slice of this particular world but is a sequel to three novels by Mr. Castro. As such I did not connect with the characters and thus the story became a rather routine mystery – clever enough, but uninvolving. I found this to be, however, one of the two best stories in the issue.
I have enjoyed much of Paul Levinson’s early work but have lost track of him recently. I must say that “Ian’s Ions and Eons” does not make me want to seek out more. It is not without merit, as a man from our future decides to change the outcome of the Busch vs. Gore Supreme Court decision.
He meets up with opposition which was not necessarily what I expected. The whole thing is written in such an uninteresting and uninvolving style that I could not really care what happened in the story.
“The Flare Weed” by Larry Niven is another two-page Draco Tavern story. These wore out their welcome long ago, for me. If you enjoy them you will enjoy this newest entry to the series.
The next story, “Two Look at Two,” by Paula S. Johnson has in its favor an elderly couple as protagonists, but unfortunately not much else. It involves a meeting between the elderly couple and alien beings. There is no tension, no development and not much of a story.
I do not wish to reveal anything about “Blessed Are the Bleak” by Edward M. Lerner. If you’re in the mood for yet another bleak story of virtual reality, then this is for you.
Lunar politics of the near future, the reality of mind wiping, and a murder are the ingredients for “Remembering Rachel” by Dave Creek. The ingredients are more interesting than the whole, the prose is lacking in sparkle, and the story is rather routinely told.
Jerry Oltion’s “Quack” is the highlight of the issue. It concerns a scientific research study set up between homeopathic medicine led by a Dr. of “alternative medicine” and a doctor from the “center of disease control” with a TV show banking the project. How all this comes about and the results discovered by the research make for an enjoyable read.
The final story started out quite promising, with a reporter investigating a sleeping pill that has been invented with the benefit of alien knowledge. In “Balm of Hurt Minds” by Thomas R. Dulski the aliens, nicknamed “The Neighbors,” have been around 20 years. They are still very enigmatic and work through large corporations to sell their knowledge. It’s an intriguing (if often used) setting that bogs down in lectures about sleep research and, once again, uninteresting prose.
Believe me when I say that I much prefer to recommend good stories to readers, but I also must admit when they are, in my opinion, sub-par.