Friday, October 9, 2015

Inhuman Garbage, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Asimov's Science Fiction, March 2015; ~25,300 words
Rating: 3, Good, ordinary, story  Recommended By:  Locus SFRevu:4 SFEP

A young woman is murdered in Armstrong City, Luna, and both the police and organized crime want to understand why. Captivating.

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

Pro: There are half a dozen major characters, but the author manages to make each of them distinct and real to us. A big plus is that there are no bad major characters--every focus character is acting in a way that he or she thinks is reasonable and rational.

Con: The conclusion is a little forced. After all that great setup, and all that suspense, a former criminal decides that a little kidnapping and torture wouldn't be out of line.

There are lots of loose ends and/or dropped threads. Why does Ansel make a big deal out of the crate's serial number? We learn a lot about him at the start, but then he disappears entirely. Deshin at one moment says that he trusted Koos with his life and knew him from childhood, but just one hour later, he's ready to let Koos go for making one mistake.

The big issue, of course, is that clones aren't treated as people, but this is hard to credit. We live in a society that wants to give rights to spiders and snakes--a place that denied rights to a clone who could get on her knees and beg for her life would be very, very different from today's society. The story doesn't really depict a society coarse enough to do that.

5 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I think this is better than a 3.

    It is worth reading. Very engaging.

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    Replies
    1. Okay, what's your reasoning? For 4-stars and above, I look for an "aha!" moment. Something that causes things that happened before to suddenly make sense, or to make sense in a new way. I didn't see that here. Did I miss something?

      A three-star story typically has a lot of loose ends; material that's introduced but then never used. This story has lots and lots of them.

      Three stars doesn't mean the story isn't fun to read; this was a great story in that sense. But it's not the sort of polished story I think should be considered for awards.

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  2. I don't think all the loose ends were meant to be fully explained or addressed.

    To me, the story read as a complete story. The killer was identified and dealt with. That was the main thrust of the story.

    There was extra stuff going on, (a bigger story you could say) but the homicide story could be read as a standalone novella, and that was how I read it.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with all of that, but, for me, that only makes it a 3-star story. It needs more than that to rate 4-stars or more.

      Remember that our goal is to give 3 stars to most stories, reserving 4 and 5 stars for exceptional ones.

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  3. I agree with the rating. Maybe I don't read enough mystery stories, but I'm quite impressed with how well the author juggles multiple characters, perspectives, and procedures (detective, coroner, spy, crime boss). The lunar setting and the place of clones in that society is very interesting. However, the actual mystery was solved in a fairly straightforward way with no big twists to match the excellence of the other aspects of the story, IMHO.

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