Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mithridates, He Died Old

Nancy Kress is the winner of five Nebulas and two Hugos.  However, her short story "Mithridates, He Died Old", published in the January issue of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, fell flat for me.

The writing itself wasn't too much of an issue.  The sentence structures were layered fine, created decent pacing, and didn't make me stumble.

The plot was quite dreadful.  First off, there were fifteen individual scenes over the course of seven pages.  This means that the POV changes for a few paragraphs with little to say, then comes right back.  Five to seven scenes would be plenty for this story.  Dr. Turner, one of two viewpoint characters, continually mentioned some Phineas Gage guy.  I figured it would be integral to the plot. 
(Spoiler) It wasn't.  He was some Civil War man who was injured and had brain damage.  Dr. Turner thought (for some reason that wasn't fully explained) the other viewpoint character, his patient, was going to turn out like Phineas.  That whole ordeal should have been cut.

As far as characters go, it could have been worse.  The patient was okay, along with the characters in her POVs.  Her daughter and son-in-law in the other POV were kind of annoying, leaving me with little of the sympathy that I believe was supposed to be brought out.

"Mithridates, He Died Old" comes in at about a 58/100.  I'm sure I've read worse somewhere, but I can't think of anywhere off the top of my head.  I wouldn't bother reading it.

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