Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Cosmonaut's Caretaker, by Dora Klindžić

[Clarkesworld]
★★★☆☆ Mixed

(SF Adventure) Arkady was a war hero, but now he captains a worn-out ship on border patrol. Worse, the government is making him take on an android “caretaker.” (14,179 words; Time: 47m)


"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 141, published on .

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

Pro: This story tells how Arkady got his mojo back. At the start, he’s bitter and depressed. His grief over the loss of his family inclines us to be sympathetic, but his refusal to get a prosthetic leg makes him look foolishly stubborn, and his refusal to even try to make the AI work comes across as irrational. On balance, we’re not too sympathetic to him at the start.

But each step in the adventure makes him look better. He wins back his daughter’s approval. He accepts a replacement leg from ArCa, and realizes he was wrong about her. It’s very satisfying to watch him essentially returning to life.

On a minor note, I applaud the fact that ArCa made it very clear that a) she’s not human and b) she doesn’t have feelings. It’s the rare story that shows humans and AIs making a good team—complementing each other rather than competing.

Con: The biggest problems with the story are in the first half, when it buries us in infodumps. ArCa’s original conversation with Arkady and the others is painfully unrealistic. That’s the only thing that prevents me from recommending this story, which is otherwise pretty cool.

Arkady and the others at the end react as though ArCa can’t be repaired and/or restored from backup. It’s clearly supposed to be a poignant scene, but it’s hard to take it seriously.

The editing seems to have been sloppy. Is Galina’s ship the Morzh (Walrus Bull) or the Morzhka (Walrus Cow)?

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 141)
Dora Klindžić Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Minor correction, the variation is between Morzh and Morzhek, the latter not seeming to have any meaning that I can find. "Morzhka" doesn't appear in the story.

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    Replies
    1. Oops. Good catch. I'll add it to the fix list.

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