Dave Creek is a familiar name to fans of Analog Fact and Fiction magazine. Even though I don’t read Analog too often, I’ve noticed his name on the cover of the magazine numerous times. After reading The Human Equations, I can see why he’s a frequent visitor to their pages.
Most of the stories in this collection follow the tried-and-true mold of Analog stories: a dire situation is presented, a plan is made to correct the situation, problems arise, solutions are found. For someone who likes to read a stream of dark fiction, I enjoyed the more optimistic side of science fiction that Dave offers. Sometimes the pat endings leave me wanting more…I dunno…bad things to happen. But that’s because I have a problem: I love horror and I love dark SF.
The best two stories, “Kutraya’s Skies” and the “The Day That Reveals” offer a latticework of plot threads: morality, religion, culture, and relationships. These types of stories hit all the Sizemore sweet spots. In Kutraya’s Skies (a story I liked enough to ask Dave if I can reprint it in Apex Magazine), a scientist on the ‘dark’ side of a planet shares his discovery of a deadly comet with the scientists on the ‘light’ side of the planet. Cults. Racism. Politics. All three try to stop the scientists attempting to save the world based on their skewed perceptions of morality. It all feels very germane to the world of the last couple of weeks.
A couple of the stories didn’t gel for me, but then, I’m a rather picky reader when it comes to short fiction. Legendary editor Stanley Schmidt and Analog readers found something in them, so I think it’s a matter of taste.
Good hard science fiction is in short supply these days. I recommend this book as a fast and entertaining read for the science fiction fan.