Monday, December 7, 2015

Outsider, by An Owomoyela

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(SF) when an Earth ship arrives at Se after centuries with no contact, the locals struggle to understand their strange, technophobic visitor. (6,800 words; Time: 22m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended
Recommended By: NClarke

"Outsider," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Pro: Mota's society is quite different from ours; Eva comes closer to representing our ideals, and yet the story manages to make Eva the bad guy. We can see fairly early on that there are going to be problems, but once we realize a whole fleet is coming, several little clues start to add up. For example, the mystery of why a single ship carried Eva all alone.

Making the lead character a lowly tech makes us understand what Se's culture is and what it is not. As Mota tries to explain, she does have free will. It's just easier for her not to exert it against her superiors. The vote they took at the end was an interesting data point as well.

Con: Although we applaud Mota for resisting Eva, we don't really develop any feelings for her. Her victory has no cost to her and no benefit either.

Eva's behavior is quite irrational for a diplomat. Rather than try to sabotage the society, it would have made more sense for her to negotiate an agreement--even if her intent was to break it later. They obviously had superior technology.

There are a few annoying scientific whoppers.E.g. an object cannot be in orbit over a point that isn't on a planet's equator.

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