Monday, January 15, 2018

The Hydraulic Emperor, by Arkady Martine

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(SF Adventure) Mallory Iheji would do anything to watch her favorite artist’s lost movie, “The Hydraulic Emperor.” But what would she really sacrifice for it? (6,601 words; Time: 22m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas), appeared in issue 20, published on .

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

Pro: In terms of the surface plot, Mallory comes to the auction with a few precious things to give away, but to win the box, she ends up giving away the very thing she sought in the first place. She gets to hold it before the Qath take it, but she never gets to view it.

“It hurt badly enough that the Qath—the nearest one, slightly more pink in its swirling grey, glitter-eyed, horrible and lovely—came over to me, and put the fucking box into my hands.” By the time this happens, we understand Mallory enough to realize just how much it really does hurt.

Con: But why does she do it? It’s a complete loss for her. She’d have done better to let Averill win and then try to find a different way to get the copy from Lilla.

And what motive could Averill possibly have? If he won, he’d have sacrificed himself and be beyond any possible human reward.

It’s a cool setup, but the outcome is just a little hard to believe. The humans are as hard to understand as the aliens.

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Arkady Martine Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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