Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Banshee, by Michael Cassutt

[F&SF]
★★☆☆☆

(Space Adventure) When Nik’s project flounders, he needs to find a different approach before NASA pulls the plug. (8,746 words; Time: 29m)


"Banshee," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 01-02|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.044 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: At its heart, this is the story of how 64-year-old Nik reinvents himself and solves a hard problem through new thinking.

Con: I found the concept unbelievable. Perhaps you could get some benefit from a rocket that can change shape in flight, but the idea that that would somehow work better with a crew who’ve been surgically modified made no sense to me.

A big problem is that the story takes a while to get interesting. In particular, it takes way too long to let us know what project “Skin Walker” was trying to accomplish.

The time line seems to be messed up. At one point it says Nik was born 3 years after Apollo 11, and that he’s 64 years old. 1969+3+64 = 2036. But it’s clear from the story that it must be set much more than 16 years in the future. It says that present-day adults were kids during the second set of moon landings. Even if we assume a 2024 landing, that pushes the story out to 2050 or so. Even that’s not really enough time for changes like routine major surgery to make people look like animals.

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