Friday, June 2, 2017

An Account of the Sky Whales, by A Que

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(Planetary Adventure) Azuki travels to Goliath to bring the ashes of his dead girlfriend home. Exporting human remains is illegal, so he gets help from some poachers. (11,563 words; Time: 38m)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

"," by (translated by Andy Dudak, edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 129, published on .

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

Pro: The descriptions are vivid, and Azuki’s obsession with Frond feels very real.

Con: The story defies belief on point after point. The science is particularly bad: There can be no anti-gravity element; it would violate the equivalence principle of general relativity. Even if it existed, barrels of it would fall up, not down. Even if whales could fly in the air, they could hardly fly between stars. Six moons big enough to show disks are impossible for a terrestrial planet, owing to the size of their Hill spheres. Having four suns big enough to show disks is also impossible. Even if a planet did have six moons, they wouldn’t travel together like a flock of geese. Ditto four suns.

Setting the science aside, there are plenty of other hard-to-believe things. Probably the least believable is that Frond, as she’s leaving him, would ask him to bring back her remains if she dies. Arguably that’s part of the what-if, but it's so off the wall, it's hard to swallow.

Space Whales that somehow know the narrator is a good human are hard to buy, as is whale blood that’s not just good for levitation, it also makes a great drink. (From a planet so toxic humans can’t even breathe the air.)

It's bad that only at the last minute do we learn the narrator helped design the navigation system on the poacher’s vessels.

Instead of removing the “exanguination tubes” from Little Nubs, he simply cuts them; that should mean Little Nubs will bleed to death.

At some points the author seems to have forgotten when he wrote earlier. For example, Frond tells the narrator that she’s been asking him about leaving for five years, but then later he says that she took an offer on the spur of the moment and left without even coming home.

On top of all that, much (not all) of the dialogue is stilted.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Yeah, the anti-grav space whale blood was where I lost it too.

  2. Yeah, this story started out ludicrous, and then got unbelievably more unbelievable!

    1. A story that's ludicrous and knows it's ludicrous can be fine. The trouble is that this story takes itself very seriously.