Sunday, July 24, 2016

Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was, by Paul McAuley

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(SF; Jackaroo) On the planet First Foot, the small town of Joe's Corner faces conflict over building a radio telescope close to local alien artifacts. (6,013 words; Time: 20m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended
Recommended By: RHorton:5

"," by (edited by Ellen Datlow), published on by .

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

Pro: Of course the main plot is about how Leah fought the radio telescope project and won, but what makes this story fun is the hilarious descriptions of the eccentric small-town folk. The chain of events at the end, culminating in the ancient crashed spaceship seizing control of the transmitters for its own purposes, makes for a great payoff.

Although this story is part of McAuley's "Jackaroo" universe, it holds up quite well on its own.

Con: We're not emotionally attached to any of the characters, so we don't feel happy or sad at the outcome.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 07/20/16)
Paul McAuley Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the review where the fun was in seeing a piece of small town America seemingly transplanted in an alien setting which allowed the story to end with the super-satisfying "sense of wonder" from the discovery of the massive alien debris ring around a distant star that makes SF special.

    Also, the Jackaroo universe does a great job of using Clarke's third law -- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic -- in creating an economy around humans scavenging bits and pieces of Elder Culture "junk" for their advanced algorithms and mind/machine interfaces.

  2. Yes, very pleased to see a new Jackaroo story. I hope McAuley does a Jackaroo short-story collection sometime.

  3. Mistakenly attributed to Ray Nayler in Horton's YBSF 2017 volume!