Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Mad Cabbage, by Céline Malgen


(Hard SF) A Ph.D. student struggles to figure out why her fermented cabbage experiment has produced a result that’s almost as acidic as car-battery acid. (3,121 words; Time: 10m)

"The Mad Cabbage," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 07-08|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.331 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The chemistry in the story is solid.

Con: Bad writing ruins this story. There’s an enormous infodump right after the first mention of Xavier. Beyond that, there’s way too much narrative intrusion, and there are even lumps of broken English, such as “he wasn’t very well off to find a good position.”

Beyond the problems with the writing, a pH of 1 from fermentation is such an extreme result, I’d expect professor Bruce to refuse to believe it until someone else verified it.

As far as Xavier’s behavior goes, when I was at Caltech, at student orientation, they listed “tampering with someone else’s experiments” as grounds for immediate expulsion. It defies belief that Xavier wouldn’t know this.

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