Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Two Twee Stories

Analog continues with a couple of stories that ride the "twee" threshold. "Still-Hunting" by Sarah K. Castle ended up on the wrong side of that line for me, while "Petite Pilferer Puzzles Piedmont Police" by Walter L. Kleine stayed on the right side of it. A bit counter-intuitive, given the titles, but you know what they say about judging stories...

"Still-Hunting" involves "uplifted" polar bears: they can talk to an extent, plus interact with humans and pursue goals. The main character is a successful male, looking to mate with a favorite female. She has thrown her lot in with the humans. She taught them the basics of polar bear communication and accepted their deal of having her live in a zoo during tough times. The male thinks all of this is pathetic and beneath their dignity. Eventually though, he sees which way the winds are blowing, and capitulates to the inevitable. It all seems very improbable to me, especially since no mechanism for the bears becoming so intelligent was ever offered. I needed a little more help building up my suspension of disbelief. In the end it seemed more like "Look! Talking polar bears hurt by climate change! Isn't that awesome/awful?" than a well-thought out sf story.

"Petite Pilferer" on the other hand is a cute mystery story that doesn't aspire to higher things. A small woman has been stealing random items from homes in upscale Piedmont, CA. Even more oddly, she begins returning them. Our protagonist is an older cop with some health problems. Even when directly confronted with the Pilferer he can't catch her. However, when he goes on vacation he meets a woman in the art antiquities business who may have some answers about the pilferer... and may open up the cop's horizons. It's a nice story with a good sense of humor. Given that this is Analog the resolution won't be too surprising to anyone. It may be the start of a story series (a bit like "The Witch of Waxahatchie" that I wrote about in the last issue of Baen's) and I think it could make a good running series. Kleine seems to have a good feel for how to deliver fun, light sf.

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