I started off really liking this story, the kind F&SF does well (or, rather, one of the many kinds it does well).
It starts off in the 1950s, introducing us to young Morty, an eleven-year old science nerd, fiddling with the crystal set he has just made. For younger readers, that’s an old fashioned radio. For even younger readers, a radio is like YouTube but without picture.
He gets an interesting message from the crystal set, but isn’t able to grasp fully from whom it is (extraterrestrial!) and take up the business opportunity. The stories takes him through his childhood, and youth and sets up a nice xeno-entrepreneurial story. The main problem is that, for my money, in the nicest possible way, the story goes on too long – there’s over sixty pages of it. It’s nicely written, and charming, but it’s like having a nice friend staying way later on an evening visit than you want them to stay, and you’re thinking ‘dude, don’t you have to get up in the morning?’…
Maybe a shorter version, or maybe set up in two installments might have been a better idea?
More from this issue here.