Thursday, May 14, 2020

Quantum Fish, by Bo Balder


(SF Thriller) Havi returns to her home planet 11 years after she ran away, and immediately signs up to find out why the planet’s fisheries have stopped producing. (9,061 words; Time: 30m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 164, published on .

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

Review: 2020.270 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Most of the fun in the story is figuring out just what the heck is going on. The change in fish behavior (and the change in taste) are just a hint of the problem, although a fairly early clue is the new Osaka barrier.

The background info on the Katabiotics is just enough that when we learn they’re attacking, it’s terrifying. We know they destroyed the Earth at the height of its power, so these folks would seem to have no chance at all.

Havi does a nice job of making the connection between the fish, the barrier, and the Katabiotics, and she even manages to make it a bonding experience with her estranged sister.

Con: This is essentially a hard SF story that depends on knowledge of the effect of an observer on an entangled quantum system. Unfortunately, the author seems to think that “observer” means “intelligent being,” but, in fact, the “observer” is usually just a subatomic particle, usually a photon. That’s why quantum experiments get done in ultra high vacuum at ultra cold temperatures; it lets them eliminate the unwanted observers. (Personally, I think calling these particles “observers” might just be the worst choice of nomenclature ever.)

Havi’s relatives’ treatment of her on her return seems off to me, somehow. They’re simultaneously too friendly (putting her up, letting her use their computers) and too hostile (not wanting to talk to her, calling the police on her).

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