Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Strange Comfort, by Tegan Moore


(Horror) All alone, ten kilometers below the surface of Europa, Jens copes with the loss of his partner and the lack of support from his company, and wonders how he’ll get out. (8,203 words; Time: 27m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 166, published on .

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

Review: 2020.363 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The best part of this story is the atmosphere. The claustrophobic, gloomy station on the surface, with the utterly black ocean outside weighs on the mind during the entire story. And Jens’s obsession with the Worm is infectious. When bits of it bump into the station, it’s enough to make you jump.

We get plenty of hints that Jens’s tranquility noise isn’t healthy, so it’s not a big surprise that the Worm is manipulating it. And while this is a horror story for Jens, it’s definitely a big success for the Worm.

Con: There are too many bits of bad/dubious science in the story. Why would anyone go to Europa to mine silica? It’s what sand is made out of. How would an organism benefit from the DNA of other creatures—other than burning it for food? How would you pressurize a compartment to cope with being 10 km under water? Even with Europa’s gravity, and even with a hydrogen/oxygen mixture, I don’t think it could work.

Separately, I had trouble believing Jens would ever agree to just upload his brain rather than insisting on being rescued.

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