Friday, July 12, 2019

The Visible Frontier, by Grace Seybold

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(SF Adventure) A young sailor wants to learn what the stars really are, and if it’s true there are people living there. (5,473 words; Time: 18m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 154, published on .

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

Review: 2019.393 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The main attraction of this story is figuring out what’s going on. From the very first page, it’s clear that these “stars” don’t look like anything we call stars, e.g. one of them is pentagonal. Inlesh’s curiosity and determination to learn what they really are keeps turning up more and more clues.

By the time he meets the robot, I expect most readers have figured out this is a Dyson Sphere. I was pretty sure of that as soon as I learned how big the Great Sea was.

When the robot takes him outside the sphere and he sees the real stars, he gets just an inkling of how vast the universe really is, and he can’t handle it, so the robots remove his memory and, worse, remove his curiosity. So the ending is rather sad, and the setting is clearly a dystopia.

Con: The robots’ action is really bizarre. It makes no sense that Inlesh would have any more trouble than anyone in our world when learning about the size of the universe, and destroying his curiosity just seems pointlessly evil.

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