Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hiding Place

Novella by Adam-Troy Castro

A sequel to a story I haven't read that doesn't read like it. I only found out this was a sequel at the end. References to past events clued in other readers, I'm sure, but they could have been background, and everything we need to know about the character is presented in-story, a nice change for series stories! And the narrator is a complex, interesting person. But that's about all the nice things I have to say about "Hiding Place", unfortunately.

Castro presents us with a very intriguing ethical/legal question, which, combined with the character of Andrea, made me think this might be an installment of Law & Order: IN SPACE! that I could finally get behind. It wasn't.

Castro asks what should be done if a man commits murder, admits it, and then ceases to exist by having his personality merged with with two innocent people into a hive-like consciousness. 2/3 of the people are innocent, but a murderer is getting away with murder! Sadly, Castro doesn't bother to answer this question, or leave us wrestling with an ambiguously unjust solution. He ties everything up with a neat little bow to avoid having to actually deal with the question at all. Were set up for deep thoughts, ethics, and legal arguments, and then denied an honest or thoughtful solution so we can have a non-ambiguous Hollywood-happy ending. It feels fake, over-convenient, and dumbed-down.

On top of that, parts of the story play out like a murder mystery to be solved after the fact, but this whole mystery ends up hanging on pronouns and linguistic technicalities related to pronoun-confusion when talking about multiple personalities. It feels cheap, again, and there is no reason for the witnesses to have to adopt the AbsoluteLiteralTruth to deceive the police instead of just, I don't know, lying. Oh, but it makes for a good mystery to solve on a linguistic technicality, so I guess that's a good reason.

Also, you'd think A SPACE STATION FULL OF LAWYERS would be better at picking up on subtle linguistic loopholes. It's pretty much what they do.

2 mind-linked lawyers out of 5.

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