Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Malnutrition, by J.T. Sharrah

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January/February 2015; ~15,100 words
Rating: 2, Not recommended

Kadija is the first Umabari diplomat to meet with human beings. Umabari have a taboo against eating in public, and there are unexpected translation difficulties.

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

Pro: The basic idea of the story is pretty good. Simply keeping Kadija alive is going to humiliate him, but no one knows how to talk to him. Didn't really expect him to just die, though.

Con: The story depends too much on unbelievable levels of ignorance on the part of the humans. Enough humans have been to Umabara that there should be plenty of data on their eating habits, their food, their anatomy, etc. The ending isn't very believable either. Why would Hardesty let Yulix get rich off of this? Why not send a proper diplomat?

I suppose it's fair that even Yulix wouldn't know how hospitals on Umabara work, but it's hard to believe that the rules are not relaxed in such places. How else would they function?

The writing has intermittent problems. The narration gets side-tracked repeatedly. There's a paragraph about robot testimony. There's a paragraph that explains how clocks work. etc. None of this has the least bearing on the story.

The dialogue has lapses into the unnatural. Both the mayor and the doctor use "clever" phrases that no one would ever really say.

No comments (may contain spoilers):

Post a Comment (comment policy)