“The Dragon and the Martian” by Becky Ferreira
Reviewed by Nicky Magas
Max and Lokesh are two bio-synthesis technicians working for SynWare in Becky Ferreira’s “The Dragon and the Martian.” While they share a workstation, their respective projects couldn’t be any more different. Max is working hard to create a microbe which can survive on the surface of Mars, where a bio-engineered lichen created by his idol and fellow scientist Ryoko is already thriving. Lokesh on the other hand brings the mythological to life—with limited practical application. Unfortunately his last project was a bit of a disaster and his current project doesn’t seem to want to be born at all. Lokesh can feel the noose tightening around the throat of his career and to make things worse, Max is all but rubbing his own success in Lokesh’s face. If there’s only one way this will end, Lokesh wants to make sure he goes out with a bang and not a whimper.
There are a lot of things going on in “The Dragon and the Martian.” The process of terraforming the red planet, bio-synthesis, the Merry-Go drug, and the consideration of life, death and rebirth are all on their own interesting enough to make the reader want to know more. This makes it both unfortunate and disappointing that the story is too short to explore them all. None of the concepts, the interpersonal relationships or the sub-plots orbiting around the main narrative are explored deeply enough to sate the reader’s curiosity. Instead of each element coming together to form a harmonious story, much of “The Dragon and the Martian” feels disjointed and in places even contradictory. It reads more like a collection of ideas (albeit interesting ones) than a cohesive story.