Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Large Bucket, and Accidental Godlike Mastery of Spacetime

Novelette by Benjamin Crowell

Sidibé Traoré ended up as Earth's diplomatic representative because she was an astronaut who loved to pop the blisters on a sheet of bubble wrap.

That is the first line, and between it and the title, you can extrapolate all you need to know. Sidi is unambitiously along for the ride when she is sent off to a near-light speed bus/cultural exchange/diplomatic meeting/uplift program. She unsuccessfully fumbles her way through relations with other species while referencing Dr. Seuss, Lewis Carroll, and L. Frank Baum. She chaotically moves from failure to success when she starts working on negotiations with a sentient puddle who is 837th of 837 in theoretical compatibility with humans.

Obviously this is humor, but it remains plausible to the end. Sidi is exceedingly competent, although this is applied only through a series of accidents. The writing had me grinning the whole time, although the comedy is all in description and circumstance rather than "jokes". The ending is a bit out there, and seems a little too simplistic, but room is left for all of that to be resolved somewhere after the final sentence. Overall this was much more plausible and less silly than typical for this sort of lighthearted alien diplomacy story, and I really enjoyed Sidi's rise to power, almost as much as the title. 4.5 out of 5 godlike masteries of spacetime are achieved by accident.

No comments: