Sunday, December 13, 2015

Nature's Eldest Law, by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

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(SF) Twenty-three light-years from Earth, an expedition finds local plants that seem to affect human cognition. Mostly for the better, but one crew member is suspicious. (6,483 words; Time: 21m)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆, Not Recommended

"Nature's Eldest Law," by , appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact issue 01-02|16, published on by .

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

Pro: There is much to like about this story. As it becomes clearer that the plants are controlling the crew, it's chilling to watch Santiago try (and fail) to do something about it. In the final scene, we're sure he's going to his death.

Con: The dialogue is probably the worst problem with the story. It's consistently unnatural and pops the reader out of the story over and over. The mini infodumps (e.g. how the EU dissolved and Spain went into space) are distractions that add nothing to the tale. Santiago's relationship with Ana seems pointless too.

The idea of plants that have such a precise effect on human thinking is rather hard to credit. If the locals wanted humans off the planet, why leave one behind? Or why not just kill them all?

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