REVIEW: "Birds of Feather" by Gregor Hartmann

Review of Gregor Hartmann, “Birds of Feather”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact January/February (2020): 152–158 (print) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Contains spoilers.

Frank, a distinguished astrophysicist at the local Institute of Technology, has a developed a new kind of telescope that will revolutionize space exploration as we know it. The theory is sound, but there has not yet been any experimental verification of Frank’s ideas. Unfortunately, neither the Space Agency nor Frank’s own department will approve the deployment. With the aid of Rivo, his carefree brother, Frank must resort to more illicit means to get his revolutionary telescope up in space.

It’s always nice to read an author who has a distinct and recognizable voice. Hartmann certain fits the profile. His sense of humor and casual-yet-precise style of narration stands out in most of his stories, including this one. In “Birds of Feather”, the plot has a few moments that are a bit hard to swallow and seriously test the readers’ willing suspension of disbelief. For example, the obstacles placed in the way of Frank’s research are not particularly believable — and neither is his extreme reaction to them. However, as the story focuses mainly on the relationship between Frank and his brother, I find the aforementioned flaws rather easy to forgive. Especially since the main characters are so well realized.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable story even though it’s not one of the author’s most memorable.