Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Entrepreneurs, by Robert Grossbach

An engineer on Earth in the 1980s attempts a business deal with rather tiny space aliens. (21,696 words; Time: 1h:12m)

Rating: ★★★★★, Award-Worthy

"Entrepreneurs," by , appeared in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction issue 05-06|15, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: Morty's attempts to succeed mirror the Eep's attempts to deal with Earth. Not until Qui-Phess and Morty get together does anything really go right for either of them. When their joint effort does fall apart, it's not the fault of either of them. The conclusion satisfies not just because they've both succeeded but because they each earned their success.

Morty's relationships with his family add substance to his character. Morty supported Robert through school and then Robert supported Morty's startup. His mother and wife support him blindly. His son wants to be like him. We learn a lot about what kind of person he is through the loyalty he's earned.

We don't see a lot of evidence that Morty is a better boss than the people he worked under in the past, but the fact that he asks about the health of Qui-Phess's employees after the accident when his ship is knocked off the counter tells us something. All in all, the story does a great job of developing Morty as a really good guy. We want him to succeed, and he deserves to succeed.

And yet this is more than just a story of good people coming out ahead through hard work and cleverness. It's also a story of enduring friendship  When Morty invites Qui-Phess into the house to meet his family, he's introducing them to an old friend. Through shared work and shared adversity, they've forged a friendship that has outlasted time, despite the enormous differences between them.

Con: There are a number of scientific howlers. The Eep star, Blune, would have been discovered long ago from its gravitational effect, and it would have stood out like a sore thumb on the recent WISE survey. The atmosphere of Narsuto would be poisonous to us, so the different times a spaceship leaked, people would have had to flee. The restaurant people accidentally eating Eeps would have been poisoned. Another issue is that biological life cannot detect neutrinos. Etc.

These are flaws, but they don't ruin the story as a whole.

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