Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Omphalos, by Ted Chiang

In the collection Exhalation, Knopf, May 2019

Dorothea Morrell is an archaeologist, studying the history of humanity mainly, in her case, through tree growth rings, in trees and in wood incorporated into buildings--going right back to the beginning, almost ten thousand years ago.

Because, yes, this story is set in a universe that really is less than ten thousand years ago.

In the course of her work and her travels, she meets an astronomer who tells her of a paper he's just reviewed, and, much against his wishes, had to approve because there was simply no basis for rejecting it. The science Dorothea, and the astronomer, and many others, have relied on as the bases of their faith in God, has now given them a most unsettling discovery.
This story doesn't quite work for me. Almost, but not quite. The fault is more likely with me than with Chiang, but there it is.

Some of my crankiness is likely due to the fact that I received the story as a PDF, and the font size is both tiny, and non-adjustable. Adjusting the font size is, to me, at least 80% of the point of ebooks: being able to adjust the font size to something that's easily readable to me. This was painful, and really, I don't see any reason to excuse that.

I received this story, indeed the entire Exhalation collection, as part of the Hugo Voters packet, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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