Sunday, December 20, 2009

Where the Winds Are All Asleep

Novella by Michael F. Flynn

A team of scientists descend deep into the earth through a series of caves and make some amazing discoveries. When they're done updating Journey to the Center of the Earth for a modern audience they get involved in a bit of a horror story and vow never to go back. But then the survivors have to go and present their amazing findings without evidence, refuse to get any evidence (wouldn't be tough), and resign themselves to telling the story in a bar. Now that is just bad science.

The central discovery here is a REALLY cool concept, and Flynn does an excellent job holding our attention with just the curiosity of Science. The reader can guess some of the science and still be surprised by the extent of it. Furthermore the action at the end of the story makes it impossible to stop reading. That said, this excellent story is bookended by scenes in Generic Irish Pub that detract from the whole and manage to add very little. The first bar segment had some funny bits that were more than canceled out by introducing characters who have absolutely 0 relevance to ANYTHING. The ending bar scene serves as a vehicle for wild, too-far speculation, trying to add additional horror elements that just aren't there to be had; and the central bar bits just distract from the action and save us a touch of As-you-know-Bob that I'm sure could have been worked in some other way.

Still, if we ignore the bar bookends this is one of the best stories of the year and there isn't enough good SF-horror out there anyway. This will definitely see a place near the top of my AnLab ballot. 4 out of 5 scientists could have that Nobel Prize if they would only go back and collect a little goddamn evidence.

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