Friday, November 15, 2019

A Hand at the Service of Darkness, by Gregor Hartmann

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(SF Thriller; Zephyr) Officer Philippa Song is dragged into a covert operation with an operative who seems to reject all principles of decent police work. (5,968 words; Time: 19m)

"A Hand at the Service of Darkness," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 11-12|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.649 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: I really like Philippa. She’s a hard-working decent person, and this story puts her in a bad place where her sense of duty wars with her sense of right and wrong.

Major Strasser at first seems like a cardboard villain, but there are plenty of hints that she’s just super cynical and that she has her reasons for being so. It’s gratifying that Philippa earns her respect but without compromising her own principles.

We understand entirely why Philippa insists she’ll never work with Strasser again, but we also fully expect it’ll happen anyway. I look forward to the next episode.

Con: It helps a lot that the bad guys make it perfectly clear that they really are the amoral monsters Strasser claims they are. When Luu calmly shoots a “frantic guest,” Phillipa’s moral conflict vanishes entirely.

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