Friday, November 6, 2015

The Four Thousand, the Eight Hundred, by Greg Egan

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(SF) The situation on Vesta has reached the point where certain people flee to Ceres in suspended animation. Anna, the new Director of Ceres, tries to understand the refugees better as relations with Vesta continue to deteriorate. (19,238 words; Time: 1h:04m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Provacative and Moving
Recommended By: SFEP Readers LTilton

"," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 12|15, published on by .

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

Pro: We start and end with Camille, but this story is really about how Anna copes with the fact that sometimes the superficially logical decision isn't the right one. The back story does a great job of making Camille and Olivier real people whose suffering matters to us, and all along we've learned from Anna that Cererians value utilitarian decisions, not emotional ones, which makes us understand just how hard her ultimate decision to save 800 and allow the Vestans to murder 4,000 people must have been.

Con: The details of Anna's personal life don't quite seem to jell. Perhaps this is meant to show us that she's married to her job, but it just makes her seem less like a person.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 12|15)
Greg Egan Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating. Even at novella-length there were no slow spots, and as I was reading I kept thinking how unusual and interesting it is to read a story where a society is torn apart by the far left rather than the more common far right. If the story were tagged by Netflix it would fill a bunch of categories, including romantic, thriller, gritty, thought-provoking, ... :-)

    BTW, in starting my nomination reading for the 2016 Hugos, I finally "dogfooded" the "Other Reviews" link in the RSR Ratings which makes it easy to read reviews by LTilton, SFRevu, Tangent Online, etc even if they hadn't recommended the story. It turns out to be quite tedious reading a reviewer's summary of a story that I just read before getting to their thoughts on the key things that happen in the story, which sometimes are only hinted at to avoid spoilers. I wish they would just skip the summary and write their deep thoughts on the meaning of the story, protected with Rot13 or upside-down text.