Monday, November 9, 2015

The Sunset of Time, by Michael Cassutt

Old Venus, 2015; ~14,000 words
Rating: 3, Good, ordinary, story

Jor, a an exile from Earth, manages the Lens project on Venus. Meanwhile the natives are dismantling their cities and heading out to sea in anticipation of a global disaster they insist is coming.

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

Pro: Essentially, the story is about Jor trying to figure out what's going on. Becoming a hero isn't what he set out to do--it just happens. One could also argue that it's about him making the lens work, which he does, albeit not as originally designed.

The mystery that there was no trace of the sunset seems to be answered by reloquere, which carefully removed all trace.

Con: It doesn't really make sense that the lens could be lowered enough to set buildings on fire. Nor is it clear why it was designed to transmit a narrow beam--a big mirror would enable a wide beam that didn't lose much with distance. Anyway, we had no clue it could do that until Jor uses it to alert everyone. For that matter, we had no reason to believe there were shuttles adequate to take everyone up to space in a single trip.

Although a great deal is made about people's exile quotients, nothing is ultimately done with the idea. The fact that Earth has become a theocratic dictatorship doesn't get used for much either. It's also odd that they got to Venus despite a ban on computers.

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