Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Art of Space Travel, by Nina Allan

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(SF/Mainstream) The crew of the new Mars mission are coming to the hotel where Emily works, and her mom is starting to say strange things about her involvement with the last Mars mission. (12,718 words; Time: 42m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Unremarkable and barely SF
Recommended By: GDozois:5 RHorton:4 JStrahan

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

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

Pro: The real plot here is Emily's desire to know who her father was, and by the end, she figures it out.

Con: The Mars mission is almost irrelevant to the story. It could just as well have been a team of people trying to climb a mountain. Also, although the story is supposedly set in 2070, the world is almost identical to today's world. Cars still burn gasoline, for example.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 07/27/16)
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5 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. A somewhat unexciting beginning to my Hugo finalist reading. While the characters and their relationships are touching, the future setting is pretty incidental and, as you said, not very futuristic. I found a reference to Moolie's thoughts as old, yellowed newspapers quite anachronistic. Someone on Goodreads also pointed out that Germany apparently doesn't have marriage equality by 2048 since Emily learns that one of her potential fathers entered into a civil partnership then.

    1. One more thought: While it's good that Emily is satisfied with her life, I was a little sad that she seemed to think herself incapable of following in her scientist mother's footsteps.

  2. This is a good "human interest" type story. Well written and very engaging. I read it in one sitting.

    I also 100% agree with the negatives identified by RSR and Laura. Not very futuristic, and contains merely enough SF to qualify.

  3. There's really not enough speculative content here to warrant a science-fiction tag. Also, it was obvious by the halfway point who Emily's real father was. And the whole paternity question is pretty silly to begin with, what with the increasing popularity of DNA testing. Finding one's biological parents these days isn't exactly difficult. And it will only get easier in the future. So why didn't Emily bother to get a DNA test? At the very least, it would have eliminated many of the potential suspects.


    1. I started off using a much stricter definition: I required the speculative element be critical to the story. I had to give that up pretty quickly. Now I'll grant it for any story that has at least a hint of it. But, as with this story, I'll ding it if I think the speculative element was too thin.

      Where I struggle is with things like a fine fantasy story but with an envelope story that says it was just a dream.