Gregory Norman Bossert. Freia. (Asimovs, December 2010).

The second best story about a military fighter plane with the capacity to make its own decisions in combat that I’ve read in the last week! The first was Peter Watts’ ‘Malak’ in ‘Engineering Infinity’ about which I enthused.

Bossert is a somewhat less experienced writer, and this shows when his storied is compared with ‘Malak’. The latter is just that bit more subtle, polished and well written. For example, Watts opens his stories with a couple of short quotes which clearly set the story as relating to ethics and military hardware, and leaves the rest to the reader. In contrast, Bossert info-dumps a couple of paragraphs in the middle of his story through the means of the person demonstrating the hardware to an audience – not having the confidence yet to leave it to the reader to understand the whys and wherefores of the story.

A minor concern was the immediate linking I had of the smarmy arms-salesman making a pitch for this self-determining weapon of destruction, with the opening scene in Robocop, and the need in Bossert’s story to set up this potential conflict from the outset, compared to the more subtle approach of Watts.

But having said that, Bossert’s got many years ahead of him to improve his craft, and I’m sure that this will be the case.

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