Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard), by Matthew Kressel

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(SF) Reuth has come to a beach resort on Ardabaab to try to finish his last novel before he dies. A young girl distracts him, then inspires him. (5,809 words; Time: 19m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

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

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

Pro: We quickly realize that no one is going to read this novel, and it only matters to Reuth himself whether he finishes it or not. He's lived too long; he's tired of life; he's ready to die.

Fish breathes life into him. Teaching her how to write and how to produce a book gives him a new purpose. He doesn't finish his book, but he finishes teaching her, and that's all that matters.

Con: If he had no audience, one wonder what good it did to teach her to write. Given a galaxy-spanning civilization, it's rather hard to believe that there's no one left who writes or draws.

The science in this story is very bad. Planets of red dwarf stars don't have sunrise and sunset. A planet with three bright suns isn't dynamically possible. The author seems to think of the population of the galaxy as being just slightly bigger than the Earth's population. Europan sea water that slowly damages your genes. Etc.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Liked the basic story of an old man passing on lost arts to a young girl, the characterization, and their easy relationship. (Maybe she'll make novels into a new trend!) But the sfnal elements seemed a bit too psychedelic, and I found myself stumbling over the language a little too often.

  2. I agree with the rating.

    Do not read this story late at night or when you are tired. The language is a real problem. I had the same problem as Laura.

    I can see why this is Nebula short-listed. The main character is an author.

    1. I generally have a policy that I won't read a story I'm going to review after dinner. It's too hard to keep focused.