REVIEW: “Absolutes” by Jay Werkheiser

Review of Jay Werkheiser, “Absolutes”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact May/June (2021): 99–104 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Cal is hell-bent on proving that Einstein was wrong, and that time is absolute. However, no reputable institution will listen to him or grant him any funding to test his hypotheses. He decides to do it himself with his own (or rather his girlfriend’s) money, an ambition that puts a terrible strain on his relationship.

If you can get past the utter implausibility of the ideas used here, “Absolutes” is an enjoyable story with a rather heartbreaking ending. The conflict relies on fairly cliche tropes and characters, but it is nevertheless handled expertly and even manages to surprise once or twice. The prose moves at a brisk pace, yet it is deep enough to allow for the characters to shine through. By no means groundbreaking, but overall a pleasant read.

REVIEW: “Hive” by Jay Werkheiser

Review of Jay Werkheiser, “Hive”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact January/February (2020): 82–92 – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Contains spoilers.

A group of space travelers encounter a planet where the predominant form of intelligent life – The Hive – communicates by chemical signaling rather than speech. Neither species can quite figure out the other as communication between the two is all but impossible. Hive has to worry not only about the Humans, but also their ongoing conflict with another species, Methyl, while the Humans remain entirely clueless of the whole affair.

“Hive” is a solid hard SF story. The narration alternates between the human and alien points of view, presenting two vastly different and incompatible worlds to the reader. Though a bit dense to start with (the alien POV segments can seem intentionally cryptic), it flows seamlessly once you understand what it is about. No doubt, this is a story intended for those who are willing to be patient with their SF. The underlying concept seems plausible enough provided one doesn’t dig to deep into the ideas presented. For instance, while complex communication through chemical signaling is not that far of a stretch, any intelligence arising from such a system requires further consideration. The author still needs to use language to convey the aliens’ thoughts to the readers.

Overall, I strongly recommend this story.