I opened my first issue of Analog on my Kindle a few days–curious, but not particularly hopeful. As a child and a teen, I’d liked the idea of science fiction, but I’d found the writing to be often impenetrable, and difficult to get along with. And somehow, I’d gotten the impression that Analog would reflect the books that had resisted my most ardent efforts to like them.
The notable exception to the sci-fi rule back then had been Harry Harrison, a writer whose Stainless Steel Rat was probably my first real introduction to enjoyable science fiction. It was fun, funny, and gripping. Later, I discovered a lot of wonderful science fiction that I loved, and so perhaps I should have shed that expectation long ago–but still, teenage-me has his claws in my cranium now and then.
So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Analog, far from being dry and impenetrable, was instead warm, welcoming, and wonderfully well written. A tale by the wonderfully named Bud Sparhawk — who I can’t believe I haven’t heard of until now — particularly caught me, with a wonderful double-edged style that played parodies of two completely different cultural concepts off each other. The style reminded me more of Harrison than anyone else I’ve ever read, and I’m going to be seeking out both more of his work, and more issues of Analog.
To this day, some sci-fi magazines and authors still aren’t for me — I still find some of them too dry and too serious. But Analog is not one of them, and nor is Bud Sparhawk. And god, as a writer, wouldn’t you love to have been born with a surname like that?