A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Trade-Offs for the Overhaul of the Barricade by John Chu

A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Trade-Offs for the Overhaul of the Barricade by John Chu
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Generation after generation, engineers have maintained the barricade, a shield that protects civilization against Turbulence, this strange force that destroys both minds and machines. As Turbulence grows ever more intense and the barricade begins to fail, can Ritter live up to the demands of his father, an engineer the equal of any hero in the Five Great Classical Novels, as they struggle to prevent this civilization from falling like every civilization has before it?

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Ritter was a likeable protagonist. His chosen profession wasn’t something that necessarily came easily to him. He had the magical abilities to fix the barrier that protected his people from the things that wanted to destroy them, but he wasn’t naturally good at these tasks like his father was. The conflict between his father’s regimented style and his more relaxed one provided plenty of fodder for plot development. It also made me sympathize with Ritter when it felt like he’d never be as good at his work as his father was.

As fascinated as I was by this universe, I had trouble figuring out how it all worked. I knew that engineers in this world could create and fix things using their minds, but I struggled to understand how they did this or what they were fighting against. The Turbulence was talked about regularly, but it was never really explained in anything other than few loose metaphors. That made it tricky at times to determine what was going on with the characters.

The pacing was strong. At times, this felt like the first chapter in a novel instead of a short story because there was so much going on in the plot! I liked the fact that the characters leapt from one scene to the next while they attempted to fix the next problem that sprung up. This definitely did make for an exciting read.

I’d recommend A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Trade-Offs for the Overhaul of the Barricade to fans of engineering, libraries, or hard science fiction.

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