Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Starry Sky over the Southern Isle, by Zhao Haihong

★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Climate Dystopia) Qiming’s wife left him so she could take their daughter into a domed city after his astronomer job lost prestige because no one could see the stars anymore. (3,009 words; Time: 10m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘STomaino+1 (Q&A)

"The Starry Sky over the Southern Isle," by (translated by Zhao Haihong, edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 03-04|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.132 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s touching that his daughter just wants to spend quality time with her dad, so she comes prepared with the sky show on her tablet.

Con: Very little happens in this story, and much of what does happen isn’t very realistic. For example, astronomers rarely look through telescopes anymore, so he could do his work just as well with a satellite on a distant mountaintop or even in space.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I suspect (based on personal experience) if you polled Americans you would find a large majority believe that astronomers spend most of their time looking through telescopes, so this error doesn't really surprise me. What's much more in error is the idea that the prestige of astronomy has anything to do with being able to see the night sky. Even in the heyday of what we might think of as traditional optical observational astronomy (the early- to mid-twentieth century), only a small fraction of people in the countries (the US, Britain, Western Europe) that dominated the field lived in areas dark enough you could be impressed by the night sky. Where I grew up you couldn't see the Milky Way without driving north for at least ninety miles or so (well into another state).

    What I suspect the average person would find more surprising is how few professional astronomers began as amateurs; there's really very little overlap between members of the profession and people who enjoy looking at the night sky.