Friday, October 23, 2015

Usher, by Jay Werkheiser

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January/February 2015; ~8,700 words
Rating: 4, Recommended

Uplifting story in which Dave, a scientist who is losing his sight and hearing to Usher syndrome, attempts to communicate with aliens that neither see nor hear.

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

Pro: Usher Syndrome is a real thing. It doesn't really help Dave solve the puzzle, of course, but that's okay. His insight that the aliens use magnetic fields and that they experience spectra is what solves it, and he does this despite his handicap. The end is very satisfying not just because the puzzle is solved but because Dave has found a valuable role he can fulfill now.

Con: The rush by the UN to take over seems a bit contrived. It artificially adds urgency. The notion that the aliens are about to leave seems odd, since they seemed to be in desperate need of boron--where were they going? And the idea of doing a gravitational assist off another star to come here is ridiculous.

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