Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Gift of Angels: an introduction, by Nina Allan

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Literary SF) Vincent lost his mom on one of the first Mars missions. He’s had a career as a successful author, but he’s always refused to talk about his mother. Fifty years later, he tells us how he decided to end his silence and write a book about her. (14,573 words; Time: 48m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 146, published on .

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

Review: 2018.608 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: As you’d expect for a literary story, the writing is top-notch. Transparent narration, good dialogue, etc. It’s pretty much Vincent’s explanation of how he decided to write about his mother after all these years of silence. When he makes his decision, the story is complete.

Con: The biggest problem with this story is that it runs for too long and almost nothing happens. Granted, it’s literary, but even so. Also, although there are SF elements in it, they’re not really what the story is about. His mom could have been lost in Antarctica or at sea, and it would only take a handful of tweaks to make this a present-day mainstream story.

Vincent’s endless uncertainty and dithering gets really old. His failure to engage with Stewart is almost a metaphor for the story itself.

Small detail: the story mentions that a Hohmann transfer orbit to Mars takes 27 months. Actually it only takes 8.5 months. The launch window for such a transfer only opens once every 26 months or so, which is probably where the confusion came from. This detail is not critical to the plot at all, but this sort of careless indifference to the science reinforces the idea that it’s not really an SF story; it’s a mainstream story doctored to look like SF.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 146)
Nina Allan Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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