My Year of Short Stories: Dec 22nd, By The Red Giant’s Light by Larry Niven, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, Nov/Dec 2017

Larry Niven is one of those SF authors I’ve seen on bookshelves again and again, but have never picked up. His Ring World series is an SF classic, and he was a contemporary of SF grandfather Arthur C. Clarke.

This story, sadly, does not live up to the billing Niven has had. I have friends who read tons of the Ring World books while in high school and loved them–tried to get me to read them, but for whatever reason, they never interested me, likely due to the fact they come from that hard SF genre, often times more interested in the premise or technology of the piece than the characters. This piece feels like it falls into the same hole. In fact, this story feels like one that gives SF a bad name in terms of cardboard characters and dry descriptions that do nothing to convey the emotional aspects of the characters lives. Sure, a comet might be hurtling toward the planet you live on, but fear, sadness, stress are not ever touched on. There is just a lot of explanation in this piece rather than scene. (D-)


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