Posted by: Matt Y | 06/05/2015

Review: The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale

The Triple Sun: A Golden Age tale is a story about three cadets who are charged with a mission to complete.

Early Immersion – Begins with the opening line of a joke and then tells us it’s not a joke. We’re told the three cadet protagonists in the story are training to be Extra-planetary Explorers/Space Rangers, and it opens with a bar fight with a different service branch. It’s a cliched but fine way to open and try to explain the physical differences and the ingrained abilities of the characters.

Immersion is maintained – It’s maintained throughout though hokey. We’re to believe that the top scientific minds discovered hexagonal cow-looking creatures with tentacles that wear bracelets that are made of advanced technology and though there’s no evidence of intellect or even how/where they would produce such technology these scientists spend years trying to communicate with the hexicows. Which makes no sense. That would be like seeing someone assume a T-Shirt at the mall has intelligence because of the anti-theft device tagged to it. That knocked me right out of the story because all I could imagine was a bunch of scientists running around with Benny Hill music playing while yelling at hexagonal bovines.

There is a plot – Yep, the characters get themselves into a punishment duty because one of their crew is a smart ass, through his continued smart assery the potential punishment that hangs above their heads is increased tenfold and so they have only a short time to solve a problem that the brightest scientific minds (snort) have failed to do. Namely to communicate with the hexicows. There’s a time limit and increased tensions as the other cadets grow concerned over their future.

There are characters – There are three main protagonists. The narrator, Emily who is an Earthling who despite being the narrator we learn little of. She’s mostly there to be the rational one of the group. Priam, the golden Martian, who manages throughout to be consistently disrespectful to his superior officers, other cadets and the ones that form his little group. His actions literally put them in the way of throwing away their careers and they mostly react to this with annoyance. Then it’s Micah the silver Venusian, who is both a bulky fighter, a medic and a practitioner of Zen thinking. They exist in these roles, rational leader, smart ass, and calm zen master, but outside of that we know little of them through the story. I don’t know why any of them want to be EE. Priam comes from a rich family however aside from that being a minor plot point it’s not expanded on. They’re flat characters.

There is foreshadowing and it doesn’t suck –
There is foreshadowing through the videos of the hexicow survey that are later expanded on in an interesting way, so this works.

There are no gaping plot holes – A cadet figuring out what a bunch of nitwit scientists couldn’t in a fraction of the time, using steps that as a reader felt blindingly obvious. In all the years of attempts none of the scientists thought about putting the bracelet back on and using the greeting signal. Seriously.

Pacing is appropriate – The pace moves well until the last section where it skips the penultimate moment to go straight to them being given awards.

The piece has an emotional payoff – Not for me. Just as the character is in peril with her teammates dying she has to figure out how to communicate to a group of aliens and racks her brain…then it’s a while later and they’re getting awards for what they did and she explains how they got out in a rushed summary. She saw what they ate and gave them the food they liked. In other words her epiphany was one of the first things most people think about. If a baby is crying or my cat is meowing I typically wonder if it’s hungry as one of the first thoughts. Priam is a smart ass and interrupts the superior officer while that officer is awarding them for their service. After getting them in trouble in the first place, nearly getting them kicked out of the service for being a smart ass, risking their health by not sharing his ‘cunning’ plan, the guy still hasn’t learned a damn thing by the end of the story. The requirements for the EE must be extraordinarily low.

It’s not a bad story, it’s just a cliched one with moments that are meant to be clever but seem like common sense instead. The skip to the awards ceremony was obnoxious and felt like a cheap way out of the predicament that had been built up.

One Puppy Metric of Judgement: It meets most of the basic requirements so it gets a pass despite heavy reliance on tropes, hollow characters, and a disappointing climax.

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