Saturday, February 15, 2020

Across the Ice, by Ada Hoffmann

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[Strange Horizons]

(Vignette) When she’s not helping study a giant alien artifact, Neela enjoys ice skating on Europa’s endless ice plains. (999 words; Time: 03m)

"," by (edited by Vanessa Rose Phin), appeared in issue 02/03/20, published on .

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

Review: 2020.088 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: What I actually liked best about this story was the imagery. Somehow the author managed to make me feel the freedom of flying across the ice, exhilarated and happy with a new discovery. (The fact that I’m writing this in Quebec City, where it’s ten degrees Fahrenheit below zero may contribute to that though.)

Neela likes the Europa mission because people largely accept her as she is. The analysis of the alien artifact excites her, though, because the aliens’ baffling structures make sense to her; it’s a chance to get people to value her differences, not merely tolerate them. The message isn’t subtle, but it’s not overwhelming, and it’s unobjectionable.

Con: The story doesn’t give us a good reason to believe that Neela is correct; it could just be wishful thinking on her part. As a vignette, there’s no plot or action, but there’s no dialogue either.

You can’t ice skate on Europa. It’s much too cold. (You can’t skate below about -30° C, but Europa is -160° C.)

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