Weeding Womb

Slow Life

Slow Life by Michael Swanwick. Not bad, at least, as long as you ignore the details of far-future politics. Massive spoilers below.

Here we have a tale about an expedition to Titan, a crewmember facing certain death, and the weird dreams she has while she waits for her air to run out. The dreams feel properly surreal and hard-to-understand at first, gaining clarity near the end as the crewmember puzzles them out. The alien encounters that occur (and are related to the dreams) are also well done.

(Well, almost: I fail to see how an alien collective, suicidal when faced with massive culture shock, could be saved partly on the grounds that a human thinks they're sexy. They didn't know about humans or anything human a few hours ago, now the wonder and desire of a human is enough to give them will to live?)

The Voice Web subplot (where the astronauts send audio responses to - as someone calls them - "Illiternet" voice e-mails) was well-done on first glance, but became weak and annoying on close inspection. The voice e-mails went from a policy-mandated PR thing at the start to an apparently unstoppable flow at the end, with even the guy sitting on the transmitter/receiver seemingly unable to turn them off. The astronauts couldn't control who was horning in on their radio communications. It's about as realisitic as NASA saying their newest Mars lander was hacked by a 12-year-old and is currently writing "4ll ur b4$3 4r3 b-l0nG 2 uz!" across the face of the planet with its tire tread patterns.

Still, a good story if you grab on for the ride and don't think about the logic too much.

The Archon

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