Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nexus, by Michael F. Flynn

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(Time Travel) A time traveler, an immortal, an android, a telepath, and a variety of space aliens meet at cross purposes in modern America. (24,381 words; Time: 1h:21m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Complex and Entertaining
Recommended By: SFRevu:5 GDozois:5 RHorton:5

"Nexus," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 03-04|17, published on by .

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

Pro: The strong characters and the humor are the big attractions of this story. Every character has his/her own mission, and they are all so different from one another that there’s no mixing them up.
Siddhar Nagkmur wants to undo the mistake he made and bring his own people back. He’s a nice guy, and we feel his pain, which makes rooting against him painful for us too. An excellent example of a “bad guy” who isn’t a bad guy at all.

Stacey, the immortal, simply wants company. She’s upset that Siddhar isn’t the man she thought he was, but she’s decent enough to give the time cops a warning in another millennium or so. Sadly, she’s not getting as much out of immortality as one would hope, but having muddled through a few millennia, we’re not surprised that she keeps on going.

Colonel Zendahl wants to protect the apkali from the headwalkers but also from attention from normal humans. His military efficiency is admirable, and while his hatred of headwalkers may be excessive, it’s not out of place in this instance.

Jim-7 is the real bad guy, mainly because if he gets away, we know the whole world will end up chlorinated. His/her/its total lack of concern for humanity makes him/her/it easy to hate. And yet we do have sympathy for him/her/it wanting to repair his/her/its ship and escape. The changing pronouns are almost certainly a poke at books like Ancillary Justice, which make a big deal out of gender.

Annie Troy, the android, is driven by her programming to unearth more data. By the end, she figures it all out, at the expense of revealing herself to people like Col. Zendahl. The AI double talk is pretty good, even to one who knows the real state of the art. (Bravo!)

Janet, the telepath, simply wants to solve the mystery. Of all the characters, she alone accomplishes exactly what she wanted to. Her limited telepathy (surface thoughts in her own language only) makes her feel much more real than an unrestricted telepath would have.

Beyond that, the story is very rich with allusions to cultures, languages, and history.

And it’s funny!

Con: One wonders what the aftermath will be. Will Annie kill the witnesses after all? Or will Col. Zendahl?

The future time patrol is a bit of a deus ex machina.

The pronoun joke gets old really fast.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. The future time patrol is a bit of a deus ex machina.

    Well, yes. His name is Dace-X and he comes out of a machine.