David Burkhead's interests, based on this story, are very much in line with Jack Webb’s. He’s interested in How Things (Will) Work, and How To Fix TheDavid Burkhead's interests, based on this story, are very much in line with Jack Webb’s. He’s interested in How Things (Will) Work, and How To Fix Them When Something (Or Someone) Goes Very Wrong.
Furthermore, he expresses that interest in terms of an engaging, dramatic story that pointedly sidesteps the pitfalls of focusing too much on the “mystery” or the villain.
EMT takes place (almost entirely) on the Moon. We follow two characters who you might expect to be very different, but ultimately have the most important things in common.
Schneider is the CEO of a large corporation, who has come to the moon to track down the source of certain discrepancies between what his outfit has been reporting, and what the raw numbers are telling him. There is an accounting shell game going on, and he’s going to do more than stop it.
Kristine is an EMT on the moon, and coping with Things Gone Wrong is her entire job. Which is being made harder and harder by budget and staff cuts, meaning cheaper equipment, longer hours, fewer EMTs on duty, and just about everything else you don’t want for your emergency first responders.
If Burkhead had wanted to spin this out to novel length, he could have dug into the details of the “mystery”, added in more viewpoint characters, and made it all work.
But he’s not interested in the mystery or the villain. He’s interested in Process, in how things work, and how to get them working again after things have gone pear-shaped. There is little mystery in the cause of the problems, and even the details of how Schneider nails down the whole thing are basically in the background. What is important is that Schneider takes a look at the whole operation. He doesn’t just assume “it should work”, as many non-technical people assume these days. He cares about how.
And the story follows that theme.
It’s entirely entertaining, but you need to check some assumptions at the door. Don’t look for a mystery, or an obsession with villainy or human weakness. Don’t look for a shiny new, easy-to-render-with-CGI tech idea that you’ve never seen before.
What you will find, instead of those things, is a thoughtful look at how things can be made to work in a not-too-distant future on a private Moon colony.
I liked that. I liked it a lot. I was sorry there wasn’t more, but what is there is entirely entertaining and worthwhile.
This review is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International License. It is adapted from a longer blog post available here:
As “One-Eyed Dragon” is a short-ish story, I don’t want to say too much about it.
It takes place in an unnamed Japanese village at an indefinite pointAs “One-Eyed Dragon” is a short-ish story, I don’t want to say too much about it.
It takes place in an unnamed Japanese village at an indefinite point in the past. We follow a tattoo artist who has lived there a short time, and is all but shunned by the villagers for reasons only ever hinted at. A small, mysterious lady comes into his shop and asks for an unusual tattoo. And that’s about all I can say without detracting from the delight that this story offers.
Sanderson’s writing is quiet, and she sets up all the elements of her story with perfect subtlety, all but effortlessly (to the eye of the reader, that is), so well that it makes this particular writer just a little jealous.
The other point that stood out for me is how well she evokes historical Japan. It’s not overt, just implied through detail and character interaction, but it is very effective and came off believably, though I’m not an expert in Japanese history. The only possible quibble is a reference to an artist with an obviously Chinese name (a real historical figure, as it happens, though Sanderson has distanced her story just a tiny bit by altering the spelling of the name), yet no mention is made by the character mentioning him that he is Chinese rather than Japanese. That an educated Japanese man would know about Chinese art does not a surprise, but that he would not make a distinction between the two cultures felt wrong to me. But again, I’m not an expert in Japanese culture or history, and the quibble is excruciatingly minor.
Even including that, I can’t recommend this story highly enough. It is lovely, just lovely.
Not a review, but a clarification of my rating. This book is NOT inferior to the first two books in the series. It might even be better. However, I diNot a review, but a clarification of my rating. This book is NOT inferior to the first two books in the series. It might even be better. However, I did not enjoy it as much, both because it is less clean in plot, especially the resolution (by intent and design, that's part of the thematic point of the book), and because it brings Vlad low enough that his charm is overwhelmed by his ruthlessness, and he permits the reader to seem him about to do something utterly abhorrent without any wit or charm to put a spin on it. This, again, was clearly the author's design, and a thing necessary to the series. But it meant that I didn't have nearly as much fun with this book as with the others....more