Thursday, September 29, 2016

Minor Hockey Gods Of Barstow Station, by Beth Cato

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(Sports SF) Gloria and her friends play one last game of hocky before they leave the alien space station they've been stuck on ever since their dreams of interstellar competition collapsed. (5,300 words; Time: 17m)

Rating: ★★★★★, Award-Worthy

"Minor Hockey Gods Of Barstow Station," by (edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt), appeared in Galactic Games (RSR review), published on by .

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

Pro: Narration and dialogue are flawless, and the plotting is excellent. Gloria's goal is to do some work she can be proud of; work that makes a difference. We learn this early, and since she's the sensible twin, it makes a lot of sense. But we also know she loves hockey and that she'll mourn its absence from her life.

The bits and pieces we learn about the sad state of affairs on Earth makes Gloria and her friends' situation even more dismal. They wanted a shot at a life in parts of the galaxy that are successful. None of them holds out much hope for a meaningful future back on Earth. I particularly liked the fact that none of the aliens had it in for Earth; the Pashi treated the kids decently, taking pity on them and letting them earn passage home. The folks who stole the kids' money were, likely as not, other Earth people. This gives the whole situation a lot more realism than a mindless antagonism would have.

When the Daru Baru show up, we don't really expect a lot from them. Her team probably can't win, and even if they did, it seems unlikely they'd get much from it. The offer from the aliens for her to come to their planet and teach is one of those beautiful moments when you're taken by surprise and yet everything adds up. Well done!

Con: It's a little hard to believe that the Baru Daru embarked on a 3-month trip yet no one knew they were arriving until a few hours before the humans were leaving.

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