Friday, September 6, 2019

From So Complex a Beginning, by Julie Novakova

★★★★☆ Cool problem solving, lots of tension.

(SF Adventure) The first world ever found with complex life orbits a white dwarf, and the government wants to know if it evolved naturally or if it was terraformed, but Irena has no idea how to decide that. (6,545 words; Time: 21m)

"From So Complex a Beginning," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 09-10|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.478 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s quite a puzzle: How do you decide if a world evolved naturally or if it was terraformed? Particularly if the terraforming were so long ago that there’s been plenty of time since then for fossils and evolution. It could take decades or even centuries of careful work cataloging all the species and looking for fossils in thousands of different places. No wonder Irena is pissed!

But, of course, to prove that it was terraformed, you only need to find one or two strong markers. (It’s much easier than proving a negative.) Irena is lucky to stumble onto one, but she’s got the presence of mind to examine it closely and reach the right conclusion. Plus she’s stubborn enough to insist on reporting it immediately.

The suggestion that Irena might actually be paranoid and even having delusions adds quite a bit of tension to the story.

Con: It’s impossible to have a habitable planet around a white dwarf that isn’t tidally locked.

Ulsen would have had to be really smart to have both figured out about the triggers and figured out how to hide them from all the scientists back on Earth. But the people on this station were chosen because they weren’t the best and brightest.

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Julie Novakova Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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