Wednesday, May 7, 2008

April Analog, Pt. II

"Amor Vincit Omnia" by Craig DeLancey is a nicely done novelette. A successful business man gets a visit from a government official. The official is asking questions about the orphanage where he grew up. Government officials asking questions always make us suspicious, and of course here the suspicion is justified. The man gets in touch with other alumni of the orphanage, and it turns out that they're all pretty special people: each one is successful, and they do their best not only for themselves but also for the greater community. There is some alluded-to scandal in their past, but it seems minor.

Eventually of course, all questions are answered. We find out what's special about the man, the orphanage, the scandal, and why the government is looking for them. It all ties together nicely, although I suspect that the effects of the orphans' specialness is over-dramatized (i.e. the author seems to be presenting a silver bullet for the world's problems). I enjoyed it quite a bit: the author has a good feel for when to tease the audience, when to answer questions, and how to explain things in such a way as to raise more questions.

A tangential note: it's a bit depressing how easy it is to hook into reader's paranoia about the government. One guy in a suit, claiming to be from a government department, and we know something's up. We have no trouble believing that this person is a bad guy with a hidden agenda. In fact, that seems to be the default. If he *didn't* have a super-secret evil agenda, maybe that would need some explanation. I'd say it's the post-9/11 times we're living in, but the example of the X-Files certainly pushes that paranoia back a decade or so. In fact, it probably goes back at least as far as Heinlein. So it's something of a constant, but it happened to jump out at me here.

In another government-related story, we have "Righteous Bite" by Stephen L. Burns. This is a straight-forward war story: two soldiers moving through an enemy-occupied urban landscape (obviously somewhere in the Middle East) at night, looking to assassinate an enemy target. Burns plays it completely straight until the twist at the end, which I shall not spoil. However, I'm afraid that this story will probably generate quite a bit of mail for Stan Schmidt (Analog's editor). I suspect that people will either say it's glorifying war or that it is insulting our nation's soldiers. It will be interesting to see what the Brass Tacks column looks like a few months from now.

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