REVIEW: “Second Hand Destinies” by Marie Vibbert

Review of Marie Vibbert, “Second Hand Destinies”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact March/April (2021): 139–145 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Tatiana is troubled young woman living with her brother and grandmother on a battered space-station that barely works. She is not the real Tatiana, but a tentacle creature – a symbiote/parasite – that has taken her form. Her brother and grandmother know this, but are happy to have her in their lives. One day, a damaged spaceship carrying a royal fugitive lands on their station, bringing all sorts of trouble for the unorthodox family.

Vibbert is great at establishing mood and this story is no exception. There are a few great moments in the story that create a rich and complicated universe in just a few paragraphs (or a few line of dialogue). However, after a rather tense climax, the author opts for a conveniently “happy” ending that doesn’t quite land, in my opinion. Still, this is very much a story worth reading.

REVIEW: “On the Changing Roles of Dockworkers” by Marie Vibbert

Review of Marie Vibbert, “On the Changing Roles of Dockworkers”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact July/August (2020): 90–93 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Contains spoilers.

Mary is a dock supervisor in charge of maintaining the dock’s robot workers. One day, while investigating a malfunctioning robot she discovers that the damage was self-inflicted. Digging deeper, Mary finds out that the robot is trying to prevent a new update that will take away its recently obtained sentience. Now, Mary faces a dilemma: should she help the robot, or wipe its consciousness away?

An enjoyable story, on the short and sweet side. Vibbert manages to give her robot a “motivation,” so to speak, without making it unrealistically emotional. The scenario is plausible, even if a tad unlikely. Some of Vibbert’s metaphors err on the side of silly, like “These logs record every time an electron farts.” However, they rarely detract from the story.

All in all, an excellent short story.