Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Billows of Sarto, by Sean Monaghan

★★★☆☆ Average

(SF Adventure) A middle-aged man mourning his wife visits a famous set of volcanic lakes on another planet, where he finds the local wildlife a bit more interesting that expected. (5,608 words; Time: 18m)

"The Billows of Sarto," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 03-04|18, published on by .

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

Pro: Kaufman starts the story empty, looking for something to make him whole again. He doesn’t find a lover—it’s not clear that’s what he wanted anyway—but he does find what he really needs: a friend, with whom he shares a unique experience.

The description of the volcano and the Billows themselves, together with the spectacle of their mass mating, make the story feel real and solid.

Con: The speculative element is very weak; moving the action to anywhere on Earth and substituting any unusual natural phenomenon would have worked just as well.

It’s hard to believe in a future where we can travel to the stars for a vacation but still can’t cure cancer nor replace lost body parts.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Yeah, like the Nayler story, this one killed my suspension of disbelief - even more so, as this story has routine interstellar travel. The protagonist has sentient luggage, but one of his daughters has a landscaping business. And we have sophisticated reconstructive surgery for women who have had to have mastectomies now: this just struck me as a clumsy indicator that the woman was a cancer survivor.