Archive

Archive for January, 2018

“‘Run,’ Bakri Says”, by Ferrett Steinmetz

January 21, 2018 Leave a comment

NOT FOR CHILDREN

“‘Run,’ Bakri Says” is a story in the vein of Replay or Groundhog Day, about a person in a time loop, living the same events thousands of time.  The only thing is, she’s in a war zone.

Non-Spoiler Summary

The main difference between “‘Run,’ Bakri Says” and the other time loop stories is that Irena isn’t reliving twenty-five years of life, or one day she controls: she’s got fifty minutes to rescue her brother from an American jail in the unnamed country.  She’s got to get past a sniper, two guards outside, and find her brother Sammi in the jail.  It takes thousands of tries.

Why should you read it?

“‘Run,’ Bakri Says” is about what war does to people who can’t get out.  Irena starts out not wanting to kill the soldiers, and a few hundred iterations later, she’s measuring statistics on how often she can make head-shots.  For such a short story, it traces the dissolution of her personality quite vividly.  I’d almost call it science fiction-horror.

Where to find “‘Run,’ Bakri Says”

This story is available freely on Escape Pod’s site, in audio and text.

“Triceratops Summer”, by Michael Swanwick

January 14, 2018 Leave a comment

“Triceratops Summer” is a story about some dinosaurs blocking the road, some vacations that weren’t taken, some time that doesn’t matter, and some physics in the background.  Largely a piece about how time feels in a given situation, rather than deeply plot driven.

Non-Spoiler Summary

A herd of triceratops show up on an early summer day, and our viewpoint characters are stuck in the traffic they generate.  Shortly, a man from the Applied Physics lab nearby show up, and tell them where the “trikes” come from.  The rest of the story is how everyone lives with the dinosaurs for the rest of the summer.

Why should you read it?

“Triceratops Summer” is a meditation on what one does with one’s days, and whether it’s more fulfilling to leave one’s home or just enjoy the events of a normal life.  After re-reading it to write this post, I’m reminded of how little actually happens in this story–it’s almost more about not doing things than doing them–and how good the images of sitting on the back porch feeding cabbage to dinosaurs just feels.

Where to find “Triceratops Summer”

This story is available freely on Baen’s site, in text.

“Rocket Surgery”, by Effie Seiberg

January 7, 2018 Leave a comment

“Rocket Surgery” is a story about smart bombs, when they get really smart, and start asking philosophical questions.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Teeny is a bomb with AI.  Something like a neural net.  He has to be trained to do his missions… but what happens when he starts generalizing from what’s assigned to what’s really good?  And what happens when he asks about what happens after his missions–remember, he’s a bomb.  For him, there is no after.

Why should you read it?

“Rocket Surgery” is a sad and funny piece about a bomb’s college education.  It’s the story of what happens when you make the bomb smart enough that it starts asking questions, what happens when a weapon becomes a warrior. . . becomes a philosopher.  The story has a refrain of “Did I do good?”  Teeny resolves all of these issues, all at once, and pretty well. . . for a bomb.

Where to find “Rocket Surgery”

This story is available freely on Escape Pod’s site, both in text and audio.