Friday, October 23, 2015

Marduk's Folly, by Sean Vivier

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January/February 2015; ~1,300 words
Rating: 2, Not recommended

Marduk's Accord finds a star whose planetary system doesn't match what they expected, but disagreeing with the Accord isn't easy.

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

Pro: Not a story of a complete win, this tale shows Marduk indulging in a small act of rebellion before giving in to the demands of the Accord. More realistic, if less satisfying, than having him convince everyone else.

Con: If they have telescopes so good that they can image the ring systems of gas giants, they can certainly image small rocky planets. And what was the point of sending a single message to the general area around the star? If it had enough energy to be received over such a wide area, surely it couldn't be kept secret.

The physics in the story is messed up in general. A star doesn't have a plane--planets orbit in a plane. The text probably means the planet transits the star. And you get the mass of the star from the orbital period, then you get the mass of the planet from the doppler effect on the star. Then you could compute the barycenter. The text gets this backwards. 

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