Sunday, September 8, 2019

In the Stillness Between the Stars, by Mercurio D. Rivera

★★★★☆ Interesting, Creepy, and Ultimately Touching

(SF Horror) En route to α Centauri, the ship AI awakens a psychotherapist to help a crew member who thinks she’s seeing monsters. (8,813 words; Time: 29m)

Recommended By: 👍MHaskins+1 👍STomaino+1 (Q&A)

"In the Stillness Between the Stars," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 09-10|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.486 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This manages to be both a horror story and a very human one. Emilio has to try to deal with the “monster” Angie is seeing but he’s also got to cope with his own guilt at leaving his ten-year-old son behind. Indeed, his very first thought upon waking is that Tomás is dead now—except, of course, he’s still a little child because it hasn’t even been one year yet.

The conversation between Emilio and Tomás is heartbreaking.
Dad? . . . Where have you been? I need your help learning to hit a curveball. Are you coming to my birthday party next week? I really want you to come.
If the monster really does feed on guilt, it has definitely found the motherlode.

Angie’s own guilt is easier to get around because there’s nothing she can do about it. Her husband and child died while she was having a fling with a much younger man, but she didn’t really cause them to die. Emilio, on the other hand, still has one last chance to make things right.

This is really the core of the story. The various things the monster does are almost secondary.

Con: Even if you accept the idea that info can be transmitted via gravity waves, it’s a little hard to swallow transmitting monsters that way. Also, given the extent of the malfunctions Emilio observed, I think they’d stop the ship at Pluto and do some thorough testing before letting it proceed.

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Mercurio D. Rivera Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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