Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Mundane breakdown of Analog Jan/feb 2006

Posted by goatchurch at 5:05 PM
This is called "Volume 126 No. 1" of Analog SF which has such a poor website I can't even cut-and-paste a table of contents from it, so have had to type in the titles myself before I found this.

I'm rating them under three categories. Mundane, Not-mundane, and Semi-mundane. Semi-mundane means the story could be made mundane with a bit of editing. The criteria I am mainly applying is that it's got to be SF, but not include Faster than light travel, Psi powers, Nanobots, Etraterrestrial Life, Computers with consciousness, Materially profitable space travel, Human immortality, Teleportation, or Time travel.

1. The Balance of Nature, Lee Goodloe. Semi-Mundane. Nanotechnology.

This one is interesting since the non-mundane-ness is utterly gratuitous and limited to two sentences. "Primitivists rejected all mechanization, even nanotechnology when they could." and "The buildings were made of diamond--or a diamondoid framework, actually, grown as a single crystal by the nanofabs." No one would notice a thing if they were cut out.

2. Dinosaur Blood, Richard A. Lovett. Not-Mundane. AI, aliens, profitable space travel.

3. Mop-up, Grey Rollins. Not-Mundane. Aliens, implied FTL.

4. Kamikaze Bugs, E Sedia, D. Bartell. Semi-mundane.

This one falls within the rules, but I am wary of a world where someone can secretly bio-engineer a new insect that's effective, and the whole world is not already full of other bio-engineered critters that other people have made. It's a sort of leap of technology that leaves out all the stages that would have happened during its development.

5. Plus-Dimensional Carry-all, Mark Tiedemann. Not-mundane. Teleportation.

6. Written in Plaster, Rajnar Vajra. Not-mundane. Time travel, nanobots, telepathy.

7. Change, J. Flood. Not-mundane. Parallel world.

This one also falls within the rules, but we're at a stage where the world is full of trees locking so much carbon that they're experiencing global cooling. This isn't really planet earth, but an inversion of today's story.

8. The Night is Fine, John Barnes. Not-mundane. FTL, nanobots, immortality, brain downloads.

9. Sun of Suns pt 3, K Schroeder. Not-mundane. Wrong planet.

10. Pollution, Solutions, Elution, and Nanotechnology, S Gillett. Semi-mundane. Nanotechnology in the title. The text of this science fact article is about chemistry.

11. The Strange Saga of Snowball Earth, Richard A. Lovett. Super-mundane.

This is a Science Fact article about recent discoveries in geology and the exciting story of past super-ice-ages which suspiciously coincided with the emergence of multi-cellular life. This genuinely fascinating article gives the breadth of reality in which Mundane-SF exists. Why then, when this guy wrote story number 2 above, did he need to dull our minds with an intellectually unchallenging fairy-tale about alien satelites contemplating genocide?

Not one truly Mundane story here in the leading magazine in 2006, unless you count Lovett's Science Fact article which is absolutely excellent. There is a lot of room for improvement.