Friday, September 18, 2015

The End of the War, by Django Wexler

Find this issue
(Military SF) In deep interplanetary space of some other solar system, war is fought between squads of self-replicating robots while their human operators engage in almost-friendly conversation. (12,500 words; Time: 41m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Exciting, Moving, Shattering
Recommended By: SFEP Readers

The first three pages or so are not typical of the rest of the story. Don't be too quick to give up on this one. It's a very fine story that unfortunately puts its worst foot first.

"," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 06|15, published on by .

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

Pro: The story steadily builds up our admiration of Miranda and our affection for her. By the time she attempts to kill Garrett, the tension is mostly because we don't want her to succeed--not because we care about him but because we know what it will do to her. The story also does a very good job of gradually showing us just how long and how terrible this war has been. Casual mention of things like "the still-glowing" enemy planet, or the fact that they no longer had the ability to make fusion bottles clue us in to just how desperate things are. When we witness the destruction of both Arks, it's heart-stopping. And yet, the casual, friendly conversation between the operators convinces us that there is real hope for the peace.

Con: The exact details of the combats gets old. It's a lot like hearing someone talk about his video-game adventures.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 06|15)
Django Wexler Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

Follow RSR on Twitter, Facebook, RSS, or E-mail.

4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This was a good story. The nods to RTS games could be considered a bit pat, but it actually worked because of the character interactions.

    1. Yes, the weakest part is the detailed descriptions of the technology they use to fight each other, but once you get past that, you realize the story is much, much deeper.

      The scene where she describes what it was like when she killed Emily is overwhelming. All the little touches that make Emily seem very human to us AND to the narrator are just perfect. "She was a girl just out of training . . . still uncomfortable in the suit . . . introduced herself hesitantly as Emily." Even the detail that she had "an old Mark III" makes us feel it wasn't a fair contest. Or "She should have put up more shielding. An amateur mistake . . ." Everything makes us sympathetic for Emily, but the fact that it's all delivered in the narrator's voice makes us really feel how much the outcome hurts. "I could hear Emily screaming. . . . It was several seconds before the clearwave cut out, but it didn't seem to matter. I could still hear her shriek of pain and terror ringing in my ears."

      And so could we.

  2. I thought it was a very good story, once I got pass the 1st 3 pages. Yes - I agree with the comments about "the weakest part is the detailed descriptions of the technology". That is in the first 3 pages for the most part. Page 2 and 3 if you needed to get precise because that was when I started to wonder how and why it got a 5.

    For the benefit of readers who do not like Military SF or very technical SF, if you can get pass the 1st 3 pages, it is a very good story that is worth reading. I can see at the end how it got a 5.

    1. Good suggestion. I added a note to the blurb telling people exactly that. Thanks!