Each installment of Lightspeed brings both Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, so for the sake of cohesion I will be splitting the reviews into two different entries (on different days of the same week) to cover both areas!
“Charlotte Incorporated” by Rachael K. Jones
What was most interesting to me from this story was the idea of creating our perfect or ideal self image (and the way we identify with that physicality). The narrator’s initial physical condition is very interesting to me, especially the hierarchy, social disparity, between incorporated and unincorporated people. Nothing can stimulate real life, and even the applications do not compare for Charlotte. The extent to which Charlotte believes that our identity corresponds to our physical body is illustrated through her misidentification at work (when her identity does not correspond to Charlotte due to her boss’ choice).
“Hereafter” by Samuel Peralta
This story really reminded me of The Time Travelers Wife except the order of events is changed around. Ultimately this is a story about the intersection of belief in science. For me, what was most interesting was the unique combination of faith and science in the fact that if the math is correct, Caitlyn must believe in the future accuracy of the time traveling math. She does not understand it and cannot really prove it, but she must have faith and believe she will see Sean again. This was a beautiful story about the inability to hold too tightly onto things as well as the necessity of faith. We are not in control of time and this story illustrates a couple dealing with that issue in a futuristic way.
“Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea” By Sarah Pinsker
This is the short story from this section that stuck with me the most. Why? I really enjoyed the two characters in the story, they each had their own interesting background, and felt like three dimensional people. A question that this story touched upon, which was also touched upon in Station Eleven was, “What do artists do when civilization has broken down?” The story line surprised me and I specifically enjoyed the attention paid to the way the story was told. I found that the jump between the present and the past (relative based on where you view the beginning of the story) was a fascinating look on how we retell and edit stories, and by extension, history.
“Transitional Forms” by Paul McAuley
I remembered Paul McAuley’s name from having read “The Fixer”, so I was looking forward to reading another piece of his writing. This story is in a different vein than the other, presenting more of a futuristic cowboy sort of vibe (at least that is what comes to my mind when I hear of men wearing cowboy hats and riding horses through a desert like atmosphere). This setting reminded me both of a space opera type of bounty hunter saloon and an analogy I heard where space exploration was compared to the West (the period in America where the West presented opportunities for gold and cowboys versus Native Americans, that type of stereotypical presentation of the Wild West). The analogy ran along the lines of the same mindset of colonization, domination and exploration over space applied to the space of outer space. As far as characters go, I was a lot more fascinated by the characters in “The Fixer”, but perhaps that is because I am particularly interested at the moment in Artificial Intelligence. There was less time spent describing the characters, and more about the world and the “alife” organisms (an interesting feature, but I am a sucker for interesting characters). Yet what ended up sticking with me was that, for me, it felt almost like Janine was one of those women in the story who do not present so much of a character, but an impetus for another character, Ray to act upon.
Cover image from here.
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