Song of the Megaptera
by Pat Mills
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Not a bad story, by any means, but one that doesn't fully live up to its potential.
On the plus side: Space whales are cool. Time-travelling space whales are particularly cool. Peri gets to be wise-cracking rather than whiny, and has a couple of particularly funny lines. ("I'm not delirious, I'm an American!" was hilarious for reasons that I can't fully explain.) There's some rather good double-act repartee between a pair of hapless security guard characters.
On the minus side: Mills seems never to have met a bit of technobabble he didn't like. Throwing around words like "dark matter", "event horizon", "hyperstition" and "techno-shaman" is presumably supposed to give a nice shiny science-fictional verneer to what is otherwise basically a whaling story, but it never seems like the author has thought particularly hard about what it all means or how it works. Not to mention that it leads to ridiculous lines of dialogue like, "No! It's a fungoid lifeform! Lasers have no effect!" The fungoid techno-shaman whale hunter represents a potentially fascinating alien culture, which is not explored in much depth. Although this may be for the best, since Mills ultimately seems determined to expose him as just as greedy and morally dubious as the big industrial space whale hunters. (Which made me wince a bit, since Mills drew from Polynesian and Native American whale hunting cultures in creating the character. I don't think that Mills intended to do anything other than subvert the audience expectation that this character would turn out to be a kind of noble savage. But still...)
Entertaining, but flawed.View all my reviews >>