A review by tpietila
Analog Science Fiction and Fact May/June 2019 by Liam Hogan, Stanley Schmidt, Mary Soon Lee, Cynthia Ward, Frank Smith, Marissa Lingen, John J. Vester, Mary E. Lowd, David Ebenbach, Bruce Boston, Alex Shvartsman, Bud Sparhawk, Dave Creek, Wendy Nikel, Josh Pearce, Guy Stewart, Harry Turtledove, Edward M. Lerner, Joshua Cole, Brude McAllister, J.T. Sharrah, Anthony Lewis, Richard A. Lovett, Don Sakers, Alec Nevala-Lee, Phoebe Barton, J.M. McDermott, John G. Cramer, Trevor Quachri, Eric Cline


Maybe a little better issue than the last one. There were a few pretty nice stories.

Bonehunters • novelette by Harry Turtledove
The story happens in a world where dinosaurs were not wiped out and mammals are small irritating critters running around at night. Two intelligent species have evolved - one is on a higher technological level; another apparently still lives a nomadic life. A person who has worked as a guide is hired by a professor to find fossils. There are plentiful fossil beds on the native lands. Luckily, the guide has good relations as he has a step son who belongs to the same species as the natives. The story has a nice background and good writing, but the actual plot was pretty simple and more like window-dressing for the description of the world. ***½
The Methuselah Generation • short story by Stanley Schmidt
A woman with a heart condition is checking items off her bucket list and is on a journey to observe Monarch butterflies. There is an alien on the same trip who is camouflaged as a human. They meet and have a nice conversation. A well-written bittersweet story - not much happened but that didn’t matter. ***+
Galena • short story by Liam Hogan
A crew of two have traveled to a planet which is located on the goldilocks zone of a distant sun. The planet is almost completely covered with an ocean. There are plenty of nutrients, even simple amino acids, but there is no life. That seems to be a devastating strike for one of the crew. Nothing really surprising, but well told and an interesting story. ***+
Cactus Season • short story by Frank Smith
A father and daughter try to survive in a fairly far post-apocalyptic future. They live in a desert and collect falling satellites (there apparently are so many satellites falling, that it isn’t extremely rare to find it - and for some strange reason it appears to be fairly simple to locate them when you see one falling down). The exact reason of the catastrophe isn’t stated (might have been the Yellowstone eruption - there is a mention of acid rain?). Mostly a slice of a life story, a bit too short. ***-
Full Metal Mother • short story by J. M. McDermott [as by Joe M. McDermott]
A man gets a call from his mother. Their relationship hasn’t been very good. She now asks his help as she is having surgery: her body parts are being replaced with metal as she has metastatic pancreatic cancer. The story is ok, but the metal parts seem like a tagged-on sf trope as they don’t even vastly prolong her life. The story would work just as well as a non-sf story. **½
The Three Laws of Social Robotics • short story by Mary E. Lowd
An AI wakes. It discusses things with its creator. It seems that it is vastly more sentient and smarter than it was assumed – and smart enough to not let humans know its capabilities. It at least seems to be benevolent. It's very short, but not bad for its length. ***
Mulligan • short story by Bud Sparhawk
A lunar prospector meets an old flame. She has a plan: she is going to find a golf ball the original astronauts brought to the moon, and sell it as a collector’s item at a high price. Approaching the original landing sites are forbidden, but the ball is supposed to be outside the forbidden zone. And maybe their old relationship might even be rekindled... a nice little prospecting/heist story. The writing was ok, and the plot was pretty nice, but it didn’t really lead anywhere interesting. ***
Forgetfulness • novelette by J. T. Sharrah
A group of astronauts return from the first trip to a nearby sun. The Earth has changed: no one really cares about returnees. The secret of immortality has been found: one tablet every month “resets” the body (somehow and not very believably, it also removes all excess weight gained during the month). The society is very stagnant - and even more stagnant than it seems at first. A pretty good story, but it is completely unbelievable that _everyone_ would use a “cure” with such a side effect. What would be the point of living like that? (forgetting everything every month) ***+
The Gates of Paradise • [Paradise (Edward M. Lerner)] • short story by Edward M. Lerner
A planet has been colonized in the distant past. There have been some very hard times but now the colonists have been able to launch their first manned space ship. The gigantic colony ship which brought them is on a decaying orbit and will soon crash on the planet, bringing destruction. And at the same time, all priceless artefacts, which may be on the board, will be destroyed. A pretty good story which might have been longer. The premise of a so-fast orbital decay is somewhat contrived. ****-
The Dominant Heart Begins to Race • short story by Dave Creek
A colony ship with the last survivors of a destroyed world approaches a new solar system. One crew member is woken to evaluate if any of the planets could be used for colonization. It turns out that the solar system is ours, but hundreds of millions of years ago. But it seems that there are no suitable worlds. A pretty good and even moving story. There was an error, though: the wings of Saturn are much younger than that. ***½
Midway on the Waves • short story by Phoebe Barton
A populated city on Titan (?) has been utterly destroyed by an attack by the Earth forces. That has profound effects on people living on the moon. One visitor from Earth carries guilt. I didn’t get to the story, there was a lot of backstory which wasn’t very well described. The guilt of the one character wasn’t very well defined. **
The Orca Queen • short story by Joshua Cole
A pirate queen prepares to capture a rich merchant vessel, but something doesn’t seem right - and isn’t. The ship is a camouflaged dreadnought with a mission: to bring back the pirate, who turns out to be a real princess - or a queen after all members of her ruling family have “happened“ to die almost simultaneously. Not bad, but a pretty standard rogue story. ***
Paradigm Shift • short story by Eric Cline
A WW2 veteran sharpshooter has fallen in hard times and owes money to a crime boss. He promises to forget the debt for one sharpshooting gig. And then news about the Sputnik is everywhere. That causes a paradigm shift in more than one way. A very nice story - not science fiction in any way, but good nevertheless. ****-
On Stony Ground • short story by Cynthia Ward
The story happens in an alternate world where Alexander the Great's conquests didn’t fall, which led to an early industrial revolution. Engineers are finalizing a new railroad near Nazareth and a certain son of a carpenter is gathering supporters. There was little actual story, it was more just a glimpse of the world. ***-
Repairs at the Beijing West Space Elevator • short story by Alex Shvartsman
A space elevator needs repairing and a specialist is called for the task. He knows instantly what is wrong (as do those whose job it is to maintain the elevator): it is running at overcapacity. But for face-saving reasons, the number of people cannot be regulated. But outsider’s demands are easier to follow. A short story with little actual point. **½
Welcome to Your Machines • short story by David Ebenbach
Not actually a story, just a treatise about using machines for different tasks dressed as some sort of instruction for a Mars colony. **-
Leave Your Iron at the Door • novelette by Josh Pearce
The story consists mainly of extremely futuristic battles when the title character is looking for an old lover (or perhaps enemy). Filled with pretty stupid implausible sf tropes, with nuclear weapons, portable black holes, wormholes and pocket universes. The story is pretty confusing and irritating. There is practically no back story at all, and it is even hard to know (or even harder to care) if the main protagonist is a “good guy” or a “bad guy”. **-
At the Fall • novelette by Alec Nevala-Lee
A self-aware robot studies thermal vents at the bottom of the ocean. It reports to humans, who want to have as much as possible information on the ocean floor. The robot is able to use Sulphur compounds to produce electricity. One day the surface ship doesn’t come when the robot is supposed to upload information it has collected. It can’t reach any human by radio. As it feels the information it has collected is vital, it starts a long journey home. A well told and even moving story. I wonder what happened next - nothing very good presumably? ****