REVIEW: “A Compass in the Dark” by Phoebe Barton

Review of Phoebe Barton, “A Compass in the Dark”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact May/June (2020): 109–112 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Contains spoilers.

In a Lunar colony, a young woman moves away from her family to a geological station on the far side of the moon. She is embarrassed by her father’s belief that dead soul are guided by electromagnetic fields and does not want to maintain his “compass towers.” When her father dies, she comes to regret her hostility towards him and reconsiders her attitude towards his beliefs.

I think the author has a great talent for prose as I was really drawn in by some of the descriptions in this piece. However, the plot did not do it for me. The father-daughter relationship could have been fleshed out more to give the story a better grounding for what happens when the father dies. All we have of their background is their respective beliefs towards “magnetic spirit guidance,” which in my opinion is not enough to understand why the characters act and feel the way they do. The ending does not work for the same reason.

Overall, I did not care much for this piece, even though I did enjoy the author’s writing style.

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