Analog – May 2011

Ian McHugh’s Boumee and the Apes was by far the strongest piece in the May issue of Analog.  The first encounter between a clan of intelligent elephants (or mammoths) and apes doesn’t go well when one of the clan is mortally wounded.  The discovery that apes can hunt disturbs the rest of tribe who decide that these apes must be destroyed to ensure the tribe’s safety.  Boumee, a young bull who has had direct contact with the apes, argues for co-existence, realising that these apes – while violent – are people as well.

The simplicity of McHugh’s story belies the complexity of the issues he raises.  It questions whether peace can ever be reached between two vastly different cultures and whether one act of violence must always lead to retaliation.  McHugh is careful not to provide an easy answer to this issue, though as the reader we do feel Boumee’s frustration that when it comes to protecting your territory, rational argument is the first thing to go.

A story I also enjoyed was The Old Man’s Best by Bud Sparhawk.  It’s a cute little piece about two guys trying to distill their own beer on a space station around Jupiter.  The shenanigans they go through to (a) keep their little project a secret from the station’s administrators and (b) figure how you would actually ferment anything in space makes for a fun, lightweight read.

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