Thursday, March 8, 2018

Queen of the River: The Harbor Hope, by James Van Pelt

★★★☆☆ Good Setup for a Longer Story

(Colony SF) A riverboat makes an urgent run to deliver medical supplies to a community downstream from where the starship crashed. (4,095 words; Time: 13m)

"Queen of the River: The Harbor Hope," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 03-04|18, published on by .

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

Pro: The world is nicely set up. The colony is reduced to using some lower technology simply because they lost a lot when the ship crashed. They have enough technology that their situation isn't desperate, but not so much that there's no challenge.

There’s a decent amount of tension as the ship meets with various obstacles, including the shallow water.

Superficially, the plot is just about delivering the medical assistance to Port Desperation, but there’s a deeper story about the captain/pilot regaining her self esteem after the crash landing.

Con: This reads like the first chapter of a longer story. I’m interested enough in the setup that I’d be happy to read that novel, but as it stands it feels like little use was made of all that setup in this story.

I’ll quibble with the need to send a starship 1,000 light-years. Using Wikipedia’s estimate of 0.004 stars per cubic light year, there should be over 16,000,000 stars closer than this one. Why would the first mission go so far?

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I'd be very surprised if this isn't van Pelt's tribute to a television show I watched as a kid whose name I cannot at the moment recall**, about a trio (I think) of guys taking a boat down a river that leads them deeper and deeper into the past. I did find it hard to believe that anyone would insist on reviving 19th century steamship terminology, however; it's almost as hard to believe as that your interstellar spaceship would land on the surface of your destination planet.

    **Aha! A little googling reveals it was A Journey to the Beginning of Time, actually a Czech film from 1955 that was serialized in 5-minute segments on US television.

    1. At least the interstellar spaceship wasn't steam-powered. :-)