Thursday, May 2, 2019

At the Fall, by Alec Nevala-Lee

★★★★☆ An incredible journey by an intrepid adventurer.

(Robot Adventure) A little robot travels thousands of miles underwater trying to return information to her creator, whose project seems to have lost the funding to return to the site she and her “sisters” were studying. (10,926 words; Time: 36m)

"At the Fall," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 05-06|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.221 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: In general I don’t like “emotional AI” stories unless they’re played for laughs, but this one works very well. Eunice’s whole world is the bottom of the sea, and she struggles getting from one decaying “whale fall” to the next, the only places she can refuel other than sparse geothermal vents.

The flashbacks to conversations between her and her sisters tell us that her intelligence is unusual, whereas the flashbacks to James, the researcher who created her, give us a good idea of the purpose of her mission as well as some hints as to just how desperate the situation was.

The story manages to make us care enough about Eunice that the various challenges she faces are filled with tension and excitement, and we share her horror at then when she finds the cities are dead and civilization has fallen.

Con: It’s not clear why the power supply on the dock is still working. I got the impression some sort of EMP had destroyed civilization, so why was her dock untouched?

The ending is pretty much hopeless; I don’t see how Eunice and her sisters can really do anything with what little is left them.

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Alec Nevala-Lee Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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