Author: Rajnar Vajra
Published in: Analog, July 2014
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
Synopsis: Three Exoplanetary Explorer cadets (one Martian, one Venusian and one Earthling) walk into a bar and get into a fight with a Space Navy chief petty officer and a Sky SEAL. The cadets are actually winning the fight when the MPs show up and break things up. As punishment, the Commandant of the Academy herself sends the cadets to Abreathon to help dismantle the departing team's camp, with the ominous threat that they'll be kicked out of the Exoplanetary Explorers if their conduct is anything short of impeccable. The stakes are raised further on the ship out to Abreathon; the Martian cadet Priam tells the triad's new boss that he's smarter than anyone the boss has ever met, so the boss tells the cadets that they'll be graded as failures unless Priam figures out how to salvage the entire Abreathon mission. A few days later, they arrive at Abreathon and meet the local flora and fauna. Priam, it turns out, has figured out the secret of the abreathers, and our cadets return to the Academy as heroes.
My reaction: I was already having trouble suspending my disbelief at the bar fight scene - I would expect CPOs and special-forces types to not fly off the handle at obvious newbies. Then I ran into the phrase "inertia or some other force", and damn near threw my e-reader across the room. How did that get published in Analog?
The good news is that this story does stand by itself; the bad news is that it's not that good a story. I could never suspend my disbelief at the story's beginning, which kept me from becoming immersed in the action later on. I could buy cadets getting combat-enhancing body modifications - but not if the special-forces types don't get them first. I did like the concept of a species "that evolved as an entirely cooperative society", but there's too much that I simply can't buy into. This one also goes below No Award.
Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/194924.html - comment wherever you please.