Review of A. T. Sayre, “Rover”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact March/April (2020): 165–172 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.
Against all odds, a Martian rover has survived long past its expiration date and is still carrying out its exploratory mission on Mars. So far, all its attempts to communicate with Earth have been unsuccessful. One day while searching for replacement parts, the rover stumbles on a repeating radio signal of a spaceship. Since the signal indicates the possible presence of humans on the planet, the rover risks everything to reach the source.
While it takes a bit to get there, “Rover” builds up into beautiful story full of suspense and melancholy about an advanced (albeit unrealistic) A.I. trying to cope with loneliness and abandonment. Sayre imbues the Martian rover with relatable characteristics without indulging in too much anthropomorphism. At times, the rover reads like a lost pet in an old fairy-tale or fable, adding a great deal of charm to the piece. Of course, it takes a bit to get there. The first third of the prose is rather dry and could have done with some cuts or edits.
Overall, a delightful piece that highly recommend.