Friday, April 1, 2016

Not Quite Taterona Kempi, by Ryan W. Norris

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(Hard SF) Fifty million years after the extinction of humanity, a new intelligent race tries to understand records left on the moon. (16,235 words; Time: 54m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Beautiful and Unexpectedly Moving

"," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 05|16, published on by .

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

Pro: The two threads of the story come together beautifully. Distracting finds a suitable research topic. Sidetracked realizes that far from getting a bad assignment, he's received the best one imaginable. And the Dr. Freeman thread reaches a very satisfying conclusion because we're reading it the way the talltaletellers are reading it. He's the man who made it possible for them to interpret the archive. His suggestion to Mary may even be what made it possible at all.

I didn't realize how attached I had become to Distracting and Sidetracked until I realized how happy I was for them.

The final chapter, set 210 million years later, is satisfying in a different way: it tells us that the talltaletellers carefully preserved the archive and left it for future races to discover, and that Distracting and Sidetracked left contributions valuable enough to be part of it.

Minor things: Some of the fun in the earlier parts is gradually figuring out that the talltaletellers are some sort of rodent. In some ways, their research isn't all that different from the way human beings do research.

Con: The bits about African countries becoming states were awfully difficult to swallow and didn't really contribute anything. The estimates for the number of suitable stars and planets in the habitable zone appears to contradict the Kepler data.

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Ryan W. Norris Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Extremely good, this is exactly the sort of story I like to see from Analog.
    Agreed that the bits about some sort of neo-colonialism seemed a bit off - I wasn't really sure what they were there for and didn't seem like a sensible speculation.

    1. It's remarkable how many authors mar their own creations with little bits of junk like that. It's sad that editors don't make them take it out.