Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Breath of Air, by Tom Jolly

★★★★☆ A great hard-SF thriller!

(Mars Colony Thriller) A series of “accidents” on their Martian homestead make Banner Goodman and his teenage son think someone wants to take their land—even if it kills them. (12,377 words; Time: 41m)

"A Breath of Air," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 05-06|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.244 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: I loved this story because it tries so hard to get the science right. For example, the magnetic shield for Mars is a real NASA proposal.

I also liked Banner and his shy teenage son Shep. They’re both loveable characters, even though Shep doesn’t get a lot of lines. I’m impressed that, without the author ever saying it, it’s clear that Banner loves his son and is proud of him, and that Shep feels the same about his dad.

The plot includes plenty of twists and excitement. Mars is dangerous, and the story really makes us feel that. The mystery about who is sabotaging things and why is great, particularly because of the misdirection.

Con: The ending seemed a little rushed. Also, given how intrusive the Mars Corp AI was, it’s hard for me to believe they couldn’t pin anything on the Redheart company. Also, I’m with Shep: it really makes no sense for a company to try to kill people just to save money. It’s hard to find employees who’ll kill people just for a paycheck.

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