Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Servant, by Emily Devenport

Clarkesworld Magazine, August 2015; 15,034 words
Rating: 1, Needs improvement  Recommended By: io9

A servant girl on a generation ship plots to overthrow the evil and corrupt rulers.

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

The concept is an interesting one, but the execution falls flat. First, as Lois Tilton observes, the good guys are so good and the bad guys are so evil that the whole thing is hard to take seriously. The Executives don't seem to have good reasons for killing each other--it's just something they do. The heroine's naive faith in the Medusa unit is also hard to credit. In the final confrontation with Baylor, I expected him to warn her that there was a serious reason to disable the Medusas--that there was some real threat--but, nope, nothing there.

She has implants meant to control her, but it's never made clear why they limited her sight and hearing--she rarely seems to have trouble doing either one. It's also impossible to believe that the cyber security on the ship is so bad that an untrained child can wreak havoc and yet never be detected.

The storytelling itself is awkward. The first-person narrator routinely tells us what other characters were thinking. The dialog is unnatural and there are even some "as you know, Bob" moments.

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