Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Best Friend We Never Had, by Nisi Shawl

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(SF Adventure) Josie goes back to the Mizar 5 station where she grew up to try to recruit her old friends into a project her new bosses have. Things have changed a lot since she left, though. (6,637 words; Time: 22m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Good Setup for a Longer Story

"The Best Friend We Never Had," by (edited by Jason Sizemore), appeared in issue 104, published on .

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

Pro: In terms of plot, Josie wants to recruit her old friends for the interstellar mission, and she succeeds at that, albeit not in quite the way she had planned.

This story is really about the setting, though. The combination of slang and jargon makes Mizar 5 feel like a very real place, and most of the fun of the story is gradually figuring things out. (E.g. her "school" is really her gang of friends; like a school of fish, not a high school.) At first I wondered why ARPA is sending a shipload of criminals on an interstellar mission. But it’s only a copy of you that gets to go; the real you dies to make that copy, so it’s obvious why volunteers are hard to come by.

Con: About the time we’ve got things figured out, the story is over. This feels like a nice introduction to a novel (except that all the characters are gone at the end) more than it does a short story.

There are a couple of problems with how artificial gravity behaves on a rotating space station. E.g. if you fall, you’ll fall away from the hub, not towards it.

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Nisi Shawl Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. A tip of the iceberg sort of story, but it didn't really pull me in enough to want to know more.

    1. That's why I try to add notes for stories that seem to set up novels I might want to read, even if the short story itself isn't enough by itself. Among other things, if the novel ever does get published (or already exists but I didn't know), then someone's likely to let us know about it.