Sunday, June 26, 2016

Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, by Gregor Hartmann

★★★☆☆ Average

(Hard SF Humor) Jimmy's first project as an engineer at a Silicon Valley startup involves crazy bosses, an electron beam gun and unexpected blue smoke. And that's before things go wrong. (6,444 words; Time: 21m)

"Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 07-08|16, published on by .

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

Review: 2016.610 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story is very funny, with lots of clever touches. For example, if you try to pronounce "MatSciCo" is sounds like "mad psycho." Narration and dialogue are great, and the plot more or less reaches a conclusion when the FBI arrests everyone.

Con: The framing story (the legal testimony) just doesn't work, and it drags the rest of the story down.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. As a scientist who works with electron guns (though not as strong as Beemer), Ultra high vacuum systems, and atomic force microscopes, this was a fun read!

    Although, I think that what would really happen is that the plasma created by the triboelectic effect discharging would in fact break apart carbon-and-hydrogen (CO2 and water, namely) and form a carbon film over the active aluminum surface, shutting off the bubble effect. As any surface scientist will tell you, carbon is EVERYWHERE. Hence the cleanrooms and vacuum chambers...

    1. It's an interesting example of how a story can violate the laws of physics, but as long as it does it with a nudge and a wink, we just laugh and read on.

  2. I really liked the framing story in this one -- it's really what builds the tension in my opinion.

    What I didn't buy is the main character's sense of guilt. It didn't seem realistic, as the whole thing was basically an accident. Perhaps it works better as an allegory than the actual story.