Sunday, October 13, 2019

How Alike Are We, by Bo-Young Kim


(SF Thriller) A ship bound for Europa is rerouted to Titan to help with an emergency at the colony, but on approach, the AI demanded to be given a human body, and the new entity isn’t sure what’s going on. (25,648 words; Time: 1h:25m)

"," by (translated by Jihyun Park and Gord Sellar, edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 157, published on .

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

Review: 2019.583 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s a bit of a mystery story. Why did the AI want to be downloaded into a human body? Why was there missing data? And there’s some tension: Will they save the colonists? Will the crew mutiny?)

Con: Much of the dialogue at the beginning is the as-you-know-Bob variety. The crew keep telling each other things they already know.

The behavior of the crew—constantly getting upset at HOON and trying to kill it—makes no sense in any context. It seems to be there solely to create conflict for the plot.

The ending is very disappointing. The whole problem was caused because men are evil and everything is fixed once the women get rid of them.

Finally, although the story presents itself as hard SF (everyone worries about the technical problem of delivering the package) but it’s packed with scientific nonsense. Just to name a few:

  • A ship bound for Europa almost certainly can’t be diverted to Titan; it wouldn’t have enough fuel.
  • There’s no way to terraform Titan. The whole idea is nuts.
  • Robots on the hull of the ship scavenging ice from random passing asteroids is crazy; the relative velocities would make this impossible.
  • Trying to drop supplies into Titan’s atmosphere at 40 kps is nuts. You’d want to slow down the ship or at least use rockets or something to slow down the package. If the ship can “turn around” it easily has the capability to slow down.
  • In fact, all references to astrodynamics in the story are nonsensical.

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