10 Analogs of the Future:

Longtime science fiction writers

Rob Chilson and William F. Wu collaborated on the ten stories in this collection, all of which first appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine.

Chilson is especially known for his work in Analog, as is Wu, a finalist for multiple Hugo and Nebula awards. This collection is enhanced by their light-hearted, informative introduction and afterwords to each story.

From the authors' introduction:

Bill Wu: Yes, we like the play on words in the title to this collection. Though digital technology has overtaken the older analog

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About Rob Chilson:

tech, the metaphorical meaning of the word works for our purposes. And, happily, all of these stories first appeared in the magazine Analog Science Fiction and Fact. That title long ago replaced the magazine’s name “Astounding Stories” from an even earlier time. So we offer these tales as possibilities that may be analogous to our future, not as predictions. 

I first met Rob Chilson on three occasions, which is to say, all three times seemed to be the first time. That’s another way of saying, neither of us cared about meeting the other the first two times; we had important concerns, instead.

We didn’t care that much the third time, either ....

*****

Rob Chilson: My journey to our third and final first meeting began in the summer of ‘82. I had not intended to go to the Chicago worldcon that year, being impoverished, but I sold a story to a gamer ‘zine and had enough funds to buy a membership and about one-eighth of writer Robin Wayne Bailey’s room—he urged me to go, as I recall, a good decision. We had a crowded and fun convention, and the Baileys and I took the same plane home. In the airport waiting room we were approached by a teenaged boy who asked if we’d been to worldcon. We regarded him warily, for teenaged male s.f. fans can be socially inept, to put it gently. But this one was quite ept.

And as we deplaned at Kansas City, the lad was met by his mother, who had been driven to the airport by William F. Wu.

I looked at him with dawning recognition: Do I know that guy? After many minutes of conversation, we decided that we had...met.

(I never sold a word to Omni.) We met occasionally at meetings of the local club, where, having nothing else in common, we talked writing. (Writers have been known to do this.) I particularly remember one conversation because Bill had this hacking racking cough that left him so breathless all he could do was gasp, “Yeah,” in answer.

Most intelligent and interesting conversation I ever had with him. We also met at a little writers’ conclave founded by Robin Wayne Bailey, where we ate hamburgers (ah, Gunter’s of fond memory!) and also talked writing. The upshot wasa decision to collaborate. Whose idea was it? Well, if you like the stories here, it was my idea. If not, it was Bill’s.

(End of excerpt from Introduction)

An excerpt from "Distant Tigers":

 

Roger was dozing in his seat when he felt the familiar small hands and bony knees of his daughter climbing into his lap. He opened his eyes and put one arm around her; she, in turn, had one firm arm around Buffalo Bill’s neck. “Hi, sweetie,” he said, his voice hoarse. “Something the matter?”

Marta looked solemnly out into the starry night. The car seemed to be hovering motionless in the sky. A strange black sky, with no ground visible. Earth was invisible far below them; it could not be seen through any of their windows.

They had flown out of the shadow of Earth, thrown by their retained rotational velocity. Now Roger would keep the sun under them, charge the hull with electricity to ward off the solar wind, and pray. The thermo-electric elements kept the car cool enough, but the floor and walls were warm to the touch. The windows were edged with flame from the sunlight below.

“Where are we?” Marta asked.

Roger cleared his throat. “We’re nearly halfway to the moon, sweetie.” Luna was visible off to the right, as if on the horizon.

“Oh.” She considered the stars thoughtfully. Finally, unexpectedly, she asked, “Are we going to be like the tigers?”

Startled, Roger laughed. “Sure. You like that one?” He used a light tone, to see if she would turn playful.

Marta nodded, meeting his gaze solemnly.

Sobering, Roger recited:

“The mind desires to roam,

The soul aspires to soar,

But Earth’s a fettered prison

Without freedom’s ancient lore.

My seeking mind turns outward

To tropic jungles and the night,

Where cold-eyed tigers freely prowl

To hunt and dream and smite.”

Marta said sleepily, “It’s always night out here,” and touched her nose to his. He kissed her cheek. “Do you know one about buffaloes?” she asked, cuddling.

“Uh, yeah, I know a song about where buffalo roam. Or used to, at least. Shall I teach it to you?”

“Yeah!”

“Okay.” Roger paused to get the lyrics straight and as he did, he reflected that buffaloes had been confined to zoos and parks even longer than tigers. “Oh, give me a home….”

As he sang and cuddled his daughter, Roger brooded over his position and course. He had been brooding over the course for days. They were approaching turnover time for travel to the Moon or Ell Clusters, and still piling on gee. Luna, of course, was nowhere near his line of flight. He would pass near the L-4 Cluster as space distances go, but it would scarcely be visible.

The transponder had beeped occasionally— it sounded off audibly when tweaked by questing beams, even as it responded. Now Roger shut off its responses. To have come out without filing a flight plan or with a silent transponder would have been a giveaway; the Patrol would have been all over him at once. Now, though, maybe he had left it on too long.

As it was, the transponder had beeped every fifteen minutes or so since he had first been warned of his deviation from his LEO destination. They knew where he was, how fast he was accelerating, and in what direction. Where were they?

Roger hugged his daughter, sang louder as she joined in the chorus. He couldn’t help glancing around at all the windows, expecting to see the prow of a CisLunar Patrol ship, evil menace incarnate, loom near them. If they caught him, he would lose his daughter.

He could think of nothing else to do. He could only run.

(End of excerpt)

 

Copyright 2020 by William F. Wu. All rights reserved.