Queen of the River: The Harbor Hope by James Van Pelt, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Mar/Apr 2018

This story is about:

A generation ship has taken humanity away from the failing, dying earth, and relocated them light years away on a hostile, yet the inhabitable world. The generationship, known as the Redeemer, however, crashlanded and much of the useful stuff on it was destroyed beyond repair. The pilot of the Redeemer was able to save much of the ship and ALL of the people on board, but the lost tech has forced humanity to travel by wooden paddle boat rather than on whatever else they could have used to jet up and down the river. The settlements are on the coast and the narrator, the captain of the Redeemer, has made a new living by captaining said boat up and down the river. We startasf_marapr2018_400x570 the story as she and her crew are trying to get to Port Desperation to deliver medicine for the sick.

What worked for me in this story:

The history was cool. I actually bought into the whole generationship thing, which is tricky to do in a short piece. Also, the setting of this piece was vivid. I had a clear sense of what this alien world was like.

What didn’t work for me in this story:

Dinosaurs as aliens. The first time I read neo-pterodactyl I couldn’t help but pause and reread the word. The likelihood of a planet having dinosaurs on it is just so ridiculously unlikely–even if they are “neo” or whatever. While the writing is solid and the world is neat, these creatures not only seemed unbelievable and broke the verisimilitude of the piece, but never really influenced the plot in a meaningful sense, leaving me question why they were there at all.


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