Monday, March 30, 2020

Only the Messenger, by Emily C. Skaftun

★★★★☆ Engaging Characters in a Moving Story

(Space Opera) When Astrill finds a cat-like alien attached to the outside of their spaceship, things get complicated for him and the other smugglers, and the more they learn about their visitor, the worse it gets. (10,142 words; Time: 33m)

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 299, published on .

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

Review: 2020.162 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The strongest part of the story is the way is makes us feel Astrill’s pain at losing the love of his life. This is doubly impressive given that Astrill is an alien in an alien setting, and that’s just about the hardest kind of story to make work.

The plot is delightfully complicated. First Astrill finds Ennesta. Then he develops an attachment to the cat-like alien. But then it gradually becomes clear Ennesta isn’t really a toyopop, so there’s something suspicious going on. Then we get the connection to the instant message machine. We learn about the threat to Trango, and finally Astrill’s sacrifice to save his family—even though they’re alienated from him.

The universe the story is set in seems to be quite complicated—and Earth is even a part of it—even though we don’t end up learning a whole lot about it.

Con: There are a number of things that are a little hard to believe if you let yourself think about them. E.g. it’s quite a coincidence that this particular alien happened to be carrying a message to Astrill’s home planet. A weapon that can destroy an entire solar system is also a little hard to credit.

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Emily C. Skaftun Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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