Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Spires of Denon

Novella by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

We follow the exploration of the caves beneath the titular Big Dumb Object from the points of view of supremely competent security chief Meklos, frustratingly secretive (and to my mind, incompetent) archaeologist Gabrielle, and mysterious hidden agenda lady Navi. One cannot help but like Meklos, and it must be tough resisting the urge to punch Gabrielle. So the characters, although perhaps more flat than one might like, are certainly well drawn. The setting is neat and the archaeological mystery is pretty good and there is an excellent tension throughout the whole story. But, again, the whole thing falls apart in the last couple pages. The action builds up to a critical point, a major twist is revealed, although it was subtly foreshadowed, but then said twist fizzles out the entire climax rather than satisfactorily resolving it. And the two things I was most curious about were either not explained, or implied to be non-mysteries in the end. An exciting tale of archeology and danger that has a crap ending and comes across as half finished despite being the longest novella in Asimov's this year; 3 out of 5.

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