Evolutionary by Chris Hertz


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Post January 27, 2010, 11:24:10 AM

Evolutionary by Chris Hertz

I read this one a little while ago, and it's been percolating in my mind ever since.

The Radium premise is pushing it, but the story itself works. As long as you don't think too much about the how, the what happened is pretty interesting. Natural Ra-226 is pretty common in some places, in concentrations tens of thousands of times more than anyone could possibly have in their bones, but it's a cool concept, nonetheless.

I'm a little unclear as to how we couldn't—as a warlike species—wipe-out a bunch of plants that can't really move very well and that wouldn't be able to travel by most conveyances. They would seem to be sitting targets, though the bees-n-things (however they came into it) might make that a bit more reasonable. It reminds me of a margarine commercial from the 70’s. . .It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature! (Accompanied by a bright flash and crash of thunder, of course.)

Overall, the story is well-crafted, with very good characterization for the few characters that are not mere window dressing. It's really the only way to do it when there is this large an ensemble. Seems there might be a grave missing, though, in one of the scenes.

I noted no real grammar or syntax problems and wasn't 'taken out of the story' to try and figure-out what the author was trying to convey. Both good things that bespeak clear, concise writing.

Nice plot twist, as well, where the reader starts-off rooting (if you'll forgive the pun) for the plants, and "Nature." And then starts wondering what a little Agent Orange or the occasional flamethrower might have accomplished, if applied at the right time.

Food for thought, in more ways than one.

Bill Wolfe
"I am Susan Ivanova. . . .I am the Right Hand of Vengence. . .I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."
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Post January 27, 2010, 12:16:44 PM

Sorry, but this one stretched my credulity too far, in too many ways.

Where is all that radium coming from? Clandestine refinery? If so, aren't all the truckloads of ore going to become obvious to someone? Theft? Not in those quantities, I can guarantee. Purchased? Government oversight . . . "What are you going to do with all this?"

And trees with eyes and mouths? Aw, come on . . . and, how are trees going to take over the world when a simple fence could restrict their movements (see "The Day of the Triffids")? Aren't ANY humans trying to fight back?

Maybe the core premise of the story is salvageable (plants becoming sentient and mobile), and it's a great topic for speculation, actually, but this treatment of it didn't work for me. Bad B-movie material, maybe. Too much unbelievable stuff going on.

In a preface to his Seven Famous Novels, H. G. Wells gave instructions on how to write science-fiction: take an ordinary setting with ordinary people, and inject ONE impossibility -- ONLY one (IIRC, he used flying pigs as an example) -- and then watch how people react to it.

If I were to approach this premise, I'd go at it as a genetic manipulation scenario. Only requires one Mad Scientist (with evil cohorts and/or enthusiastic followers optional) and a rather simple lab, and would give a much more believable result. The plants would have to be very sneaky and maybe use poison or drugs to overcome humans, but even then, it's a stretch . . . and I would definitely avoid having them become anthropomorphic.

<rant>
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Post January 29, 2010, 02:27:43 PM

Lester Curtis wrote:Sorry, but this one stretched my credulity too far, in too many ways.



All valid points, and I'm sure that some of the folks who have experienced my nitpickyness about the science in stories are wondering why I didn't tear into a lot of it.

The truth is, that I consider this story to be pure fantasy. It ain't science, it's magic, so saying something is impossible is a bit redundant.

Using the radium and the Mme Curie quotes give the story a bit of scientific verisimilitude, but this is basically an Earth Magic vs the Evil Humans tale.

Though it doesn't address one of my questions to the THITA (Tree Huggers In The Audience):

Why is a beaver dam 'natural' and a human-built dam not?

But I digress. . . .

As fantasy, it gets a hall pass--from me--as far as the scientific accuracy and veracity goes. Trees that walk and talk were scary enough in the Wizard of OZ. At least there were no creepy flying monkeys in this one.

Bill Wolfe
"I am Susan Ivanova. . . .I am the Right Hand of Vengence. . .I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."

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