Saturday, June 29, 2019

Shooting Stars, by Tom Jolly

★★★☆☆ Average

(SF Mystery) A man on a colony planet has been killed by a narrow beam that went through him and his building, and a detective has less than an hour to figure out what could have done this. (4,689 words; Time: 15m)

"Shooting Stars," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 07-08|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.352 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s quite a challenge to write a compelling detective story in a world where the police can respond to a murder in 10 minutes (and consider that slow).

There’s lots of good science in here, such as the fact that a beam of antimatter particles would produce particular frequencies of gamma rays, not a broad spectrum. His stats on the behavior of the black hole seem to be accurate too. (By my calculations, this particular black hole has about 50% greater thermal power output than the biggest nuclear plant in the world today.)

The ending tickled me; doesn’t look like he’ll be getting his AI partner and AI girlfriend to meet any time soon after all.

Con: The hero doesn’t really do a lot beyond guess that it’s a black hole. Since I had that thought the moment we knew it followed a curved path, that didn’t seem like a big contribution to me. His AI partner is so good, the hero doesn’t really seem to have a purpose at all.

There no FTL, so people use hibernation, yet the worlds near the Horsehead Nebula, 1500 light-years from Earth, have been colonized by 3700. How can the human expansion be moving at light speed? And how could we have evolved whole new species in so little time?

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