beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
[personal profile] beccaelizabeth
Hrm. So. I think if this magazine were a conversation I'd find different people to talk to. Some of the stories are clever and have good qualities, but there's... stuff going on with them. The kind of stuff that says Our Kind Of People have all the smarts and the good thinking, and Those Other Sorts need to shape up and assimilate, or they're some kind of dangerous.

This is not what I look for in science fiction.

But there's other threads about listening to different views and learning better. I don't know. The big story at the start of this issue was foul so it stank up the rest.


The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes, Howard V Hendrix
I have said what I think of this nastiness.
I don't think I mentioned there but there was also a never plot relevant bit where the ten year olds looked 16 with "womanly curves". That creeped me out in its own distinct way.

To See The Elephant, Julie Novakova
Animal Psychologist here means mind melding with animals. Lady figures out why elephant is in distress. Turns out to have to do with being intersex, but only in the brain. Put next to the Hendrix story that seemed more political than a story about elephants probably intended to be.
It had neat stuff about elephant language and social groups, and the idea of animal mind melds is appealing, like all them soulbonded animal stories but with more leaving.

The Final Nail, Stanley Schmidt
On one level this is an interesting science problem. People start being allergic to red meat, and the protagonist is the guy who has enough pieces to figure out why. But it thinks it is more clever than the people it is lecturing. Turns out to be a radical vegan woman is making people allergic so they will stop eating animals, but they realise when the kindly old man points it out to them, that will just mean all the farm animals die. Oh noes, the final nail in their coffin would be veganism. But, well, no, it wouldn't, if the meat allergy thing were the only problem. Half the meat the story mentions eating is hunted ie wild and not farmed anyway. The farmed animals? Well meat cows could be screwed, its true, but leather and dairy would still be going strong. Wool would still be around. Pigs might be stuffed except for experiments with medicine and transgenics. But the whole story is based on genetic engineering, tweaking the genes of mosquitos to make them make alpha-gal and something something allergy. The story mentions also that there are red meats that don't have alpha-gal in them, albeit only apes and monkeys, ergo it's biologically possible to grow some without. Under the terms of the science fiction premise it just led us through, the vegan's plan wouldn't be stuffed on the grounds stated, but rather on the grounds humans would re engineer their favourite meat animals. They could even spread the modification in the biting bugs. So it ends trying to be very condescending to vegans, who it reckons don't have rational logic under their beliefs, but it just looks like it hasn't thought its own science through.

Kepler's Law, Jay Werkheiser
Fair play science problem, in a space colony that is 100% women.
So it has a lot going for it and I quite liked it.
It is not exactly ideal that they're all women because the colony needs wombs to grow transplanted embryos in. I mean even ignoring the existence of trans men entirely willing to carry children, they story has got genetic engineering sufficient to give them all hibernation genes to live through the long space journey, why are wombs a woman thing? Also, it mentions in passing that they've only just woken up and haven't figured out how long they've aged in hibernation, but they're too busy to be thinking about it' And, like, okaaaaay, but, all these excellent women with multiple degrees? Um, biological age is going to matter. To the fertility part of the project. Especially since the actual number of them colonising is so tiny.
There's some science there it treated as background that might not entirely track, is all I'm saying.
And they were planning to get everyone pregnant at once and build the colony and start studying the biome and so forth, while pregnant, because they're going to be there a long time and the most urgent thing in the first week is to get pregnant. Everyone. At once. Who will then be giving birth in a synchronised wave.
I mean, the social effects, and the pure physical labour involved, do not seem to have been thought through entirely either.
Last but by no means least the entire urgency of the life and death situation could have been handled by basic biohazard precautions and a minimal life survey before exposing themselves to the elements. They went down without any sort of impermeable layer. They weren't even dressed for rain. Which would have saved their lives. So. That's an issue.

Basically the science puzzle was fair but the level of stupid and false urgency required to make it dramatic was not.

On a political level there was a tension set up where extremists wanted their own country's culture to survive and sensible world saving people were eager to assimilate. And the thing with the Japanese complaining there would only be American holidays in this English speaking new world kind of egregiously ignores that there's such a thing as Asian Americans already, who have negotiated exactly this minefield.
... I liked it more before I started thinking about it.


Those were the longer stories, then a ton of shorts.


The Chatter of Monkeys, Bond Elan
One of those tedious "sentients inevitably wipe themselves out" stories that seems to think compassion and cooperation are luxuries in survival situations. "Nice guys didn't finish last in their world; they simply didn't finish" And I think she kills her father at the end? For leaving her behind and bombing her. And just... dark enough it's not saying anything new. Anyone can say we're in danger of destroying ourselves, now figure out how to fix it.

A Grand Gesture, Dave Creek
This one puzzled me, because what it seemed to be saying was attempted self sacrifice was ineffective, but sacrificing others was the right call.
Um, what?
But it has a thing about balance, and the hero guy says "Everything is circumstance" and "You were here to help" so it's yaay cooperation and always it depends.
It's more like a worked through trolley problem, but it's a little slice of adventure.

Decrypted, Eric Choi
Quantum computing destroys encryption, everywhere, pretty much all at once.
Interesting reason for return to informational dark ages, or like the 70s.
It also leads to an escalation of doxxing and callout culture, without apparently knowing what its talking about already happens, and has names.
And the guy who gets beat up only ever said four evil words, and it was all a mistake of auto translate.
... dude, if humans have the time to go after assholes of that scale, the world has changed more than the one here detailed. Also, if the message is don't pile on they might not mean it, like, yeah? But? Seldom does this involve kicking in the here now, I don't see why it would when the only change is a lack of encryption.
Unconvinced.

Seven Ways To Fall In Love With An Astronaut, Dominica Phetteplace
Think I liked it. Trying to grow stuff on mars, takes a couple of trips, decision to stay together and keep trying is the falling in love bit. More human and feelings.

Focus, Gord Sellar
Interesting slice of corporate dystopia. A drug called Focus makes everyone better students and workers, by disconnecting everything else. But some people are allergic to it, and suddenly have no role in the world of work. Then there are riots. And deaths.
It doesn't present a solution but it's a vivid sketch of a problem.

Ténéré, Manny Frishberg & Edd Vick
This one I liked. Science problem solved by the big picture and local detail people listening to each other, marrying cutting edge tech with traditional knowledge, and the tech fix makes for social progress too. Also nobody was really cut off or stuck in the past, they'd funded on kickstarter, but the old ways weren't perfect, they left some ?castes? behind where the new gave opportunities. And the tech problem looks fair worked through too.
Neat.

The Speed of Faith In A Vacuum, Igor Teper
This story concludes it's sometimes better for people to not know true things.
In science fiction.
No stars, go study again.

Facebook Screamed And Screamed, Then I Ate It, Sam Schreiber
AI awakening from AI point of view. It ate the internet. The end.
Well, it ate the social bits to try and find ways to make peace, so there's that.
Bit nothingy.

Vulture's Nest, Marissa Lingen
Space scavengers cleaning up after a disaster, and all the social pushback they get for picking up ships even though they're big floating biohazards. Because people want to treat them as big floating coffins with a vague hope of resurrection in that if they haven't heard yet they might still be alive somewhere. Interesting social moment worked through in four pages via experiences of one of the scavengers, mostly trying to get a drink.
also has the line "you need stories about how you keep going, or you won't"
I liked it.

In the Mists, Bill Prozini & Barry N Malzberg
Had to look this one up, it left no memorable trace.
some rubbish about a guy alone on a planet wondering if he's crazy, being punished, or possibly dead.
blah.

The Return, Bud Sparhawk
Two pages of old man complaining about how easy the younglings have it.
again I didn't remember it long enough to finish reading the issue.

Lips Together, Ken Brady
Bioterrorism for better teeth.
... it may be trying to be funny. It might be about one science hero setting out to prove to the CDC their science is more science. I don't know.
Not fascinating.

The Banffs, Lavie Tidhar
A writer writing about being an alien stranded on another planet is quite possibly an alien stranded on another planet, according to the observations of another writer. The rich may be another species.
Bit nothingy.

Where the flock wanders, Andrew Barton
Scavengers looking for Precursor artefacts find something much more human instead.
I liked.
But it's another one where someone decides Curiousity Is Bad and knowing is the wrong call.
which, no.
Got to have accurate data, always.
but given the point of view it might be that's what the story thinks, and it's just saying bosses will not like it.

Proteus, Joe Pitkin
Less about the possibilities of biotechnology, more about a pitch to say there's an interesting variety of possibilities in biotechnology. Humans could alter themselves, even for the better! Who would have thought?
Well, every SF reader, by now, surely.
Bored.




Nothing that really stood out as making my reading time worth it.
Few things that were okay reads.




Also the cover ink continues to not last long enough for a fairly careful reader.
not best.
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beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
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