Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Parallel Military Cultural Evolution in a Non-Human Society, by Tom Purdom

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(SF Adventure) Ulman’s studies of war and violence aren’t popular, but he’s seeing something new from the natives of Sagittarius One, if he can just get the funding to observe it properly. (13,646 words; Time: 45m)

"Parallel Military Cultural Evolution in a Non-Human Society," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 11-12|18, published on by .

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

Review: 2018.583 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: There’s a lot to like about this story. The interactions between Ulman and the other researchers seem genuine; there’s no artificial conflict here.

The limits on the translator program are very realistic. I very much liked the fact that the machine did the drudgery but it still took a human to make big leaps, like realizing a word translated better as “honor” than “atonement.”

The “alters” were a nice touch too. Much more realistic that a “brain download” or a general-purpose AI. They offered the sort of advice their originals might have offered, and often had to report that their limitations kept them from doing more.

I particularly got a kick out of it when I realized the “pre-humans” he was talking about were us!

Con: The biggest problem with the story is that the stakes are so low. Ultimately the plot here is whether Ulman can get more funding.

When the story said “Terrayears” I first read it as “tera years” (1,000,000,000,000 years) and not “Terra-years” (aka “Earth years.”)

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 11-12|18)
Tom Purdom Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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