Most science fiction magazines have a certain reputation for what they prefer to publish. Analog, it is said, is the magazine where you go if you want to read classical, often conservative nuts’n bolts type hard science fiction that veers toward engineering and practical problem solving, not radical new physics ideas or progressive social mores.
Instead the 2014 December issue has stories that try to tackle modern sensibilities and themes as much as any other magazines on the market. The first story has a positive representation of a gay character, the second story is about accepting an overbearing big government against human first (AIs second) revolutionaries, the third tries to parade an updated gender view with a time travel and dino spin and the sixth goes for a complex look at modernization.
While all this sounds quite positive, the biggest downside is that the writing ranges from mediocre to terribly, and sadly more to the latter. The antagonists in each story are cheap straw men, the conflicts laughable, the stories badly plotted that go nowhere and just stop with tacked on epiphanies to make them somewhat end. Of the 8 stories herein, only three are okay-to-good reads and only one of those is really good.
The two okay stories are Evan Dicken’s Citizen of the Galaxy, which starts great and showcases a mother-daughter conflict against the backdrop of an Earth slowly subsumed by intergalactic culture and Craig DeLancey’s Racing the Tide, which is much less grandiose in ambition, with a story about sustainable, long-term living, but which is a more rounded experience and doesn’t suffer, like the Dicken’s story, of running headlong into a non-ending.
The clear winner of the issue is David D. Levine Mammals, that sports a story told from the POV of Charles Stross’ post-singularity Vile Offspring, the fast-evolving software minds that killed humanity during the AI-apocalpyse. Alas, evolution doesn’t stop there, and even vile things have enemies.
Overall, not a great issue, but the few good stories make it worthwhile and the non-fiction content is quite nice like always. I especially liked Howard V. Hendrix guest editorial, which was a really inspiring read.