Thursday, November 19, 2015

Riding With the Duke, by Jack McDevitt

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft, 2015; ~8,400 words
Rating: 3, Good, ordinary, story

After giving up on a physics Ph.D., Walter tries teaching  high-school physics. He knows his subject cold, but struggles to relate to the kids.

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

Pro: This is really the story of how Walter found his purpose in life. The TV gimmick makes him see himself in different roles, not all of which fit. Once he realizes he's not the Bogart, he's the Laszlo, he figures out how to use his strengths in the classroom, and that the classroom is where he greatest strengths lie.

Even the interview with the Vice Principal is illuminating. The man cares far more about whether Walter has the scientific chops to teach the material than he does about his classroom manner. "Just give yourself a chance." That echoes Diana's repeated remarks about people's own low confidence holding them back.

What particularly interesting is that the TV gizmo didn't change Walter at all. It merely let him see what sort of person he really was.

Con: Diana is a very weak character. She serves only to give Walter the device. The ending, where she decides to try for bigger things, falls flat because this isn't her story at all.

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