Review: “An Immense Darkness” by Eric James Stone

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through the whole experience with the Hugo Awards, it’s the importance of taking part in the nomination process. I missed it this year, and I regret it.

That’s about to change.

I’ll be paying a lot more attention to the new SF/F that I read this year and keeping track of stories I think are Hugo-worthy. In the interest of staying positive on the Internet (a counterculture concept, I know), I’ll be posting reviews about the ones I liked. First up: Eric James Stone’s “An Immense Darkness,” published in the March 2015 issue of Analog.

For those of you who don’t know Eric, he’s a really cool guy. He’s the only person I know to have a drone deliver the wedding rings at his reception. He won a Nebula award for his novelette “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made,” which was about a Mormon branch president presiding over a congregation of space whales living in the middle of the sun. It was awesome. His first novel comes out in January from Baen.

Eric was at Sasquan last week as well, and at his signing he was giving away copies of the issue of Analog with his new story in it. Because he’s cool like that. He hoped he might build a little support for his short story for next year’s Hugo Awards.

Eric, you’ve got my vote.

“An Immense Darkness” is the most intense five pages I’ve read in quite a while. It’s about a scientist who’s just lost his fiancé to a terrorist attack and is given the opportunity to help bring her killer to justice—with the temptation to exact revenge at the same time. The drama is believable, the character is sympathetic, the technology is both exciting and disturbing, and in the end he confronts his dilemma in a heartbreaking and moral way.

This is everything I want in science fiction. As an editor, I’ve made it my professional goal in life to promote stories in which good, relateable characters make the right decisions in hard and fantastic circumstances. This is the kind of story I would seize out of the slush pile and do everything I could to publish—no matter who the author was.

That’s one Hugo nominee chosen. Now I’ve got to finish reading that novel . . .

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