Last week, in honor of the upcoming Nebula Awards weekend on May 16 – 19th, I reviewed four of the nominated short stories for this year. Now, I review the remaining three:
“Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard
Free read: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/debodard_06_12/
Told in alternating second and third person, “Immersion” tells the intertwined stories of you – a woman addicted to the immerser suit that streamlines your appearance and your culture to that of the immerser’s creators, the Galactic – and Quy, whose family owns the restaurant in which you and your husband have come to discuss the pricing for a banquet. The you character is experiencing cognitive issues related to not having taken the immerser suit off for a long while. Quy is not keen on the suits, believing them to be, as they are, a tool for Galactic cultural domineering, and when she recognizes the you character as an immerser junkie, she seeks to help her. The two stories are woven together brilliantly, and the ending is goosebump good. Raises some deep, intriguing questions about cultural identity.
“Nanny’s Day” by Leah Cypess
Asimov’s Science Fiction, March 2012
Free read: http://www.leahcypess.com/short-stories/free-story/
The story of a future in which a great number of children are raised by nannies. Some of the nannies, believing themselves to be better parents than the biological parents, have sued in the past for custody and won. When Margaret’s son tells her that he wants to live with his nanny instead of her, Margaret becomes worried that this will happen to her; a new clause has been entered into nannies’ contracts forbidding them to sue for custody, but Margaret comes to believe that they want to use her to test the clause in court.
“Nanny’s Day” feels, above all else, plausible, and its plausibility is part of what is most appealing to me. It is also an optimistic story, in which there are no bad guys, only people trying to do what they think is best. That Cypess doesn’t resort to the obvious is commendable, and there is an emotional core to “Nanny’s Day” that makes one feel for the main character; that being said, I do feel that this story would have a deeper impact if I were a parent. In fact, I intend to come back and reread this story once I am, in the far future. I empathize with the main character, and with the nannies, absolutely, but I can just sense, beneath the surface, an even deeper layer of meaning for those with children of their own.
“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu
Free read: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-bookmaking-habits-of-select-species/
Told in five clever segments, “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” tells of five alien species and, well, their bookmaking habits; the title is pretty self-explanatory. One species reads and writes using a proboscis on their body. Another reads the world around them. One of the smartest stories I have ever read.