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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"The Star Tree" by Jon Lasser

Published in WOTF 32


Missing their wife/mother who took off to a mine on Jiri V, a father and his two boys take the train across Mars (or Mars-like planet) to their new home. However, the younger brother, Marq, wants his cards back. Chiq, the elder, won't go along with this initially, forcing the family to break up, or stick together to do what he wants. The father believes he can swing it but the family will be tired for their first day of work, and they must do it together.

A touching and rich tale with a few developmental issues.

Discussion with spoilers:
The plot here is clearly not the fisticuffs-with-nose-bleed whirlwind. Instead, it attempts to create an emotional moment, which it does with some success. Moreover, it creates a rich background society with some suggested depth.

The plot, emotion, and world-building do not align, though. The background points us toward the fact that these characters are privileged, which leads logically into a tale of class. Instead, the story makes a U-turn toward a tale of a lost love.

The boys attempt to shield their father from horrific news. All well and good, but we need to 1) care about the mother which means flashbacks, 2) understand why they are shielding their father from this, however flawed their reasoning, and 3) come up with the ideal protagonist based on the above decisions. It's not clear why this particular narrator was selected, how he is transformed, or what it means if he is not.

In addition, it doesn't explain how the Mother arrived at a different system, presumably with time dilation effects due to traveling, and the delay due sending information back to the family. Also, how does one lose an entire planet? Maybe that one would be hard to know, but you'd have to ask, and wouldn't everyone be asking? Wouldn't mothers want to send signals back to their children?

If this is a slice off a novel, that might explain the gaps and develop these questions in more depth.

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