Saturday, March 29, 2008

Three Skipped Stories

So far in this issue of Baen's I read the first two stories, but then skipped the next three.

"Waking Ophelia" by E. Catherine Tobler starts out with a deep space pilot, Bel, being awoken from hibernation early. Her ship has been hijacked! By pirates! And there's very little she can do about it. She appears to be heading towards a romance with the lead pirate, which made me roll my eyes and ask the "should I keep reading this" question. I hadn't been given much reason to care about Bel or her journey, so I figured I could live my life free of regret not knowing what happened to her.

David Gerold's "Spiderweb" starts with an astronomy lesson: "All right, let's talk about the Oort cloud. It's big. It's not flat. It's round. It's a sphere. It's 7500 trillion kilometers thick and it starts about 7500 trillion kilometers away." I'm a physicist who used to concentrate on astronomy, so lengthy reviews of things I already know bore me. Usually I can skim forward to see why the author is telling me these things, i.e. why I should care. However in this piece the lecture seems to go on and on with no end in sight. Pass.

"The Temple of Thorns" by John Lambshead also suffers from a slow beginning. We start with a woman in a medieval setting. It appears she's about to be banished. She leaves town with a guard. I got no sense of her personality, why she was being punished, and where she would be going. There didn't seem to be a driving force moving the story forward; instead it was simply trudging along. The woman seemed like a nobly wronged heroine from central casting. After several pages, I moved on.

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