The Braver Thing by Charles Sheffield
So I decided to a read a collection of short stories of the Year’s Best Scifi. And I decided to travel back to the late 1980’s to read the 8th Edition The tale up for review this time is called A Braver Thing.
The story begins with Giles Turnbull who is about to receive the Nobel Prize for Physics and he begins to think back his childhood and his friendship with Arthur Shaw. They were both fascinated with science and very brilliant, but as they grew older and went into education they grew apart. Giles rose to the top of his class and ended with a traditional job in academia. Arthur on the other hand could not function in that environment. Despite his brilliance, he could not conform to the ways things were done and dropped out. Years after a very estranged friendship, Giles learns that his good friend committed suicide at a research facility in Germany. Giles goes there to uncover the truth about his friend’s death. He soon learn some dark things about Arthur he never thought could possibly be true.
The good? The friendship is believable. And what Giles learns in the end poses grand questions about morality. And the choice Giles make in the end also makes the author ask a question about his morality. The theme of this tale is, should one pursue their dreams at the cost of other or do you take the moral route and sacrifice what you work for? It’s a fascinating exploration.
The bad? The writing is a bit dull. The characters themselves, Arthur and Giles have little personality. Their friendship seem to be their defining trait. And there’s a weird subplot that when Giles got older, he found himself falling in love with Arthur’s mother. Like he knows it’s wrong so he doesn’t try to initiate a relationship, but really does lust after her in his head. It’s really weird and is just not fun to read. But now that I think about, it does fall into the central them of the tale about moral choices.
Overall, the tale isn’t anything that great. But the central message is a good one. Sacrificing what you want for the better good of others, is a very hard thing for many people to do. And to see these to geniuses deal with this issue about something could change the world, it’s just a fascinating look at human nature. So if you like something that makes you think a little bit, then by all means give me it a read.
3 ½ smoothies out of Five
Overall Rating: An Interesting Look at Taking the Moral High Ground.
Have You Read This Story?
daniya siddiqui from karachi on October 16, 2020:
hey that's a great review.