Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Love Letters, by Peng Simeng

★☆☆☆☆ Needs Improvement

(SF Adventure) An android writes love letters to his wife, but tragically sends them to the wrong address. (1,937 words; Time: 06m)

"," by (translated by S. Qiouyi Lu, edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 146, published on .

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

Review: 2018.609 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The android’s experience of leaving home for years to seek his fortune abroad reminded me of Eric’s (my husband and co-editor, Eric Wong’s) stories about his grandfather, who left China in the early 1900s looking for success in a number of different countries. (He didn't end up abandoned on a forgotten asteroid though.)

Con: The science is so bad that at first I was sure it was meant to be for comic effect. A sandstorm that affects a whole galaxy? Insects that follow you from planet to planet? (And why do insects bother an android anyway?) But the ending shows it’s meant to be serious.

My best guess is that this was originally a story about a Chinese man (like Eric’s grandfather) on a fruitless journey to find a fortune to raise a family, but the author changed “Chinese” to “Android,” “Country” to “Galaxy,” and “Town/Region” to “Planet.”  I can't be sure that that happened, but it would explain the otherwise-absurd text. Regardless, the result is truly awful.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I think the sandstorm was limited to the asteroid without an atmosphere, and the insects were man-sized and damaged the spaceship so the android was right to fear them.

    What bothered me were the galaxies that seemed to have only a handful of planets rather than billions. It made me think the author meant solar system instead of galaxy. That broke my suspension of disbelief enough to ruin the story for me.

    BTW, that was my paternal grandfather who ended up in Manila after he couldn't disembark in San Fransisco or Mexico. My maternal great-grandfather traveled to Canada to work on the railroad as a young man and couldn't raise the funds to return to China until his fifties. He could finally marry, but died soon after, leaving a young widow and an infant (my maternal grandfather) around the time of the Chinese revolution. According to family stories. :-)