Friday, March 8, 2019

The Unbearable Lightness of Bullets, by Gregor Hartmann

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(SF Mystery; Zephyr) Inspector Song investigates the murder of an interstellar-currency speculator. (6,171 words; Time: 20m)

This is set in the author’s Zephyr universe, but it’s fine to read this story before reading any of the others, since only the setting is shared.

"The Unbearable Lightness of Bullets," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 03-04|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.141 (A Word for Authors)

Pro:  That the entire investigation is done in the shadow of a looming political catastrophe adds a certain frisson to the whole story.

I liked Philippa. She needs to solve the case, but she also needs money. Her ethics won’t let her be tempted to steal the bamboo for resale, and her common sense keeps her from speculating with her money, so it’s gratifying to see that she does end up rewarded in the end, not to mention earning Jun's respect.

Jun isn’t really a bad guy either; he’s just got some growing up to do, and he does a good bit of it in this story. It ends with the feeling they’ll be a stronger team in the future and that, given what’s coming, they’ll need to be. Him being a person of faith was a nice touch.

Con: The mystery itself is a bit of a cheat, since the murderer is someone we didn’t know about at all and the motive is something we didn’t know was possible.

There are a few scientific implausibilities. One that bothered me a lot was that, at one point, we’re told that it was an unusually dark night because Vado, directly overhead, was a thin crescent. Unfortunately, this is impossible. A crescent can never be far from what illuminates it, so this could only happen in the daytime. The only way this location ever gets dark is during an eclipse.

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Gregor Hartmann Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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