Tuesday, July 14, 2020

68:Hazard:Cold, by Janelle C. Shane

[Strange Horizons]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(First Contact) An escaped droid with a downloaded human mind crashes on a hostile planet, where she finds an alien artifact and desperately tries to convince it to help her. (6,016 words; Time: 20m)

"," by (edited by Vanessa Rose Phin), appeared in issue 06/30/20, published on .

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

Review: 2020.358 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The more we get to know Greki, the better we like her. The clever system for communication that the droids have worked out despite their very limited vocabulary is very plausible; people have gone to greater lengths to communicate.
Greki’s attachment to the two little bots is endearing, even if it’s irrational. More than anything else, it shows that the droids are more than just machines.

The storms provide a decent amount of tension, particularly when it looks as though the alien probe might just abandon her.

Con: There are a number of small things that break suspension of disbelief. They don’t ruin the story, but there are enough to drag it down a bit. E.g. When she’s attacked, how does she just happen to be right next to an uninhabited planet? It’s hard to believe she survived either the heat of reentry or the impact. Why does her space ship blow up? (It was designed by the people who build cars for Hollywood movies?) Why do the droids have a recharge cycle when there’s no external power source to recharge from? How can she be dumb enough to try to find an outpost on foot with a whole planet to search? Does she really not know that one isn’t a prime number?

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. given that the FAQ at PrimePages includes 'why is 1 not a prime', I think Greki - whose fragmentary human memories indicate a certain lack of opportunity for education - can be excused for making that mistake.

    Besides, it's an even better indicator of sapience: not just "here is a list of primes", but "here is what is very obviously intended to be a list of primes, but, uh, it has some mistakes".