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Current Issue Highlights



September/October 2019

Another issue means another cache of cleverly curated chronicles for your indulgence! First, we check in on some old friends that we haven’t seen in some time—almost twenty years, in fact! When a prospector on the Moon sees people who couldn’t possibly be there, the only thing to do is check in with other people who couldn’t possibly be there. Get the rest of the story (though maybe not the whole story) in “The Gorilla in a Tutu Principle; or, Pecan Pie at Minnie and Earl’s,” by Adam-Troy Castro.

Then: we currently have two detectors searching for “ripples in space-time,” but what about making ourselves heard by any other civilizations that may be searching? Find out in “Building a Gravitational Wave Transmitter,” our fact article from Albert Jackson and Gregory Benford.

And as always, we have plenty of other stories, including an adult SF take on superheroes from Christopher L. Bennett, in “Conventional Powers”; a tale about paving the way for those who come after us, in “On Her Shoulders,” by Martin L. Shoemaker; a story that’s somehow exactly what it sounds like, in “Road Veterinarian,” by Guy Stewart, and more, from authors like Tony Ballantyne, Antha Ann Adkins, Norman Spinrad, Michael F. Flynn, Joe M. McDermott, Christian Monson, Julie Novakova, Marie Bilodeau, Mario Milosevic, Brenda Kalt, Brendan DuBois, Phoebe Barton, Sean Vivier, Edward M. Lerner, and Jennifer Povey, as well as all our regular departments (and maybe a bonus article or two).


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The Gorilla in a Tutu Principle or, Pecan Pie at Minnie and Earl's

by Adam-Troy Castro

Many years ago—and when a man as old as I am uses the phrase, “many years ago,” he means a lifetime—I told Minnie, “I’m an engineer, not a poet.”

Minnie was a dear old gal of unfailing honesty, with a central role in what follows.

I was in love with her eyes. I don’t mean this in a sexual way. The difference between our ages, and certainly our backgrounds, would have made that grotesque. But her eyes were rich and deep, and filled with an understanding of life’s greatest mysteries, that made them a perfect place to lose yourself when she was pointing out how silly you are. I haven’t seen her or her husband Earl in decades, but I can picture those eyes like it was yesterday.

When I told her I wasn’t a poet, she said, “How dare you. It’s okay to operate under a poetry deficit, but to imply that deficit for an entire profession is dishonest. I’ve known more than my share of engineers, and any number of poets among them. Great engineering is poetry.”

I suppose she was right. She was, in most things.

Regardless, I can speak for myself. I’m not a poet, not even in the sense that sweet lady meant. There’s no elegance in me unless you count the elegance of straight lines. Even as an engineer, I’m a plodder, a practitioner of dogged persistence, the kind of guy who seizes hold of a problem and hammers it until he finds a solution, more from irritation than imagination. READ MORE


Road Veterinarian

by Guy Stewart

Javier Quinn Xiong Zaman clicked on the last email in the clinic’s queue and read, “Doctor Scrabble, the supply of Dicraeia warmingii you adjusted has reached abundant proportions, and the female Goliath Bullfrog appears not only ready to drop her eggs but to deliver an auspicious number, perhaps even enough to assure . . .”

From somewhere overhead, he heard a loud bang and scowled. The nightly stream of maglev trains started an instant later, bringing scavenged materials from the DEconstruction And Recycling Robots—DEARRs—to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Vertical Village. The ground shook, and a faint whine reached him even a kilometer west of the tracks. Probably something going on with that abomination.

He hunched back over his computer. Email kept him from humiliation, because his customers couldn’t see him, and he kept his distance emotionally as well. He clicked an effusive, if generic response, and sent it. The chair screaked going backward on the bare concrete floor as he let his forehead sink and land on his desk. Shortly, the screensaver began to scroll, floating over images of life suffering incurable genetic disorders. Currently incurable. The last image before the scroll repeated was of himself as a child.

Despite the wail of the maglev, he was snoring by then. Ten minutes later, his playlist blared suddenly from the computer. He sat up blearily to see images of himself as a boy, unselfconsciously naked between his parents—one white, one black, both Nigerian. Only parts of his body had black skin, others were stark white, and he had a shock of white hair in the middle of his forehead. READ MORE



by G.O. Clark

Sometimes when you
stop to gaze up at the night sky,
another pauses with you,
the stars a common focal point. ... 


Reader's Departments

Guest Editorial: More Than One Way to Skin a Starship

by Allen M. Steele

There’s a theory, which I happen to share, that science and SF comprise a never-ending feedback loop, one that’s been going on ever since Jules Verne decided to pick up a pen and write his first novel, Paris in the Twentieth Century (which he wrote before 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea but which wasn’t published until 1996). According to this theory, just as SF writers peer over the shoulders of scientists and technologists to gain inspiration, so scientists and technologists are often inspired by SF to explore new ideas or develop new inventions.

It works this way: if a SF writer notices that a scientist has discovered a new means of luring a mouse into a trap and uses that knowledge to write a story about a better mousetrap, another scientist may read that story, decide that the idea is feasible, and use it to theorize a better way of killing mice. The technologist takes that information and uses it to invent a better mousetrap. Whereupon a different SF writer notices the existence of Mousetrap 2.0 and concocts a story about one that’s even better, Mousetrap 3.0, which is noticed by yet another scientist, and so forth. READ MORE


The Alternate View: Bio Reprogramming and Multi-Century Life Spans

by John G. Cramer 

In my recent AV Column “Can We Cure Aging?” published in the May/June 2018 Analog, I described a new biotech method, developed by Oisin Biotechnologies of Seattle, for erasing many of the effects of human aging by clearing away the body’s accumulated burden of senescent cells. Senescent cells are damaged “zombie” cells that no longer function as intended, don’t divide, and produce toxic proteins that lead to a long list of health problems. Trials on mice have shown that using the Oisin technique increased the mean lifespan (or “healthspan”) of the test animals by over 20%. Related trials on human subjects are scheduled to begin soon. READ MORE


Guest Alternate View: Looking for Signs of Ancient Earth...On the Moon.

by Richard A. Lovett 

When the Apollo astronauts were on the Moon, one of the things scientists most wanted was for them to collect rocks. But not just any rocks. The Moon is being constantly bombarded by meteorites—so frequently, in fact, that a Greek/Cretan project called NELIOTA has been tabulating ones big enough to produce “lunar flashes” at the rate of one every two weeks. And by coincidence, a rock hit the Moon with enough force during the total lunar eclipse of January 21, 2019, that its flash suggests it dug a new, ten-meter crater.1 READ MORE


The Reference Library

by Don Sakers

The concept of gender is everywhere these days. Whether it’s the rights of trans people, questions surrounding intersex babies, or a multitude of new pronouns to learn, it seems you can’t go out in public or open a browser without running into gender issues.

As with most social concerns, science fiction was there way before the rest of the world. Let’s talk about that.

A couple of ground rules: I’m not going to talk about specific issues like the history of women in SF or gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in SF (either as writers or characters). I’m not going to talk specifically about treatments of feminism or sexual orientation in the field. Each of these topics could easily fill a whole column.

Instead, I want to discuss gender as a concept, a social/cultural construct, and how SF has dealt with that concept. In short, it’s about gender, not genders. READ MORE


Upcoming Events

by Anthony Lewis

Check here for the latest conventions upcoming in September and October. READ MORE



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