“And Then There Were (N-One),” by Sarah Pinsker

Uncanny March/April 2017;
Art by Julie Dillon

“And Then There Were (N-One),” by Sarah Pinsker.
Novella. Published in Uncanny, March/April 2017.

Pinsker is a particular favorite of mine, clones and doubles and alternates are a particular favorite of mine, and murder mysteries are awesome! Also, it seems a bunch of other people really liked this story:

“Drop what you’re doing and read ‘And Then There Were (N-One),'” tweeted @SFBluestocking, and in her blog she writes:

Sarah Pinsker’s story of a convention–SarahCon–for Sarah’s from thousands of alternate reality might be my favorite novella of the last several years, to be honest. It’s smart and funny and thoughtful in perfect proportions. It was enchanting from page one, and it’s a story and concept that has been often on my mind ever since I read it.

Rocket Stack Rank awards a rare five stars, calling the story “Intricately plotted, Moving, and Fun.” Full review (spoilers! murder mystery spoilers) is here.


What did you think? Read the story, and join the discussion in the comments!

6 thoughts on ““And Then There Were (N-One),” by Sarah Pinsker”

  1. The ending feels pretty… unique, really. Ending a murder mystery on “And then, there were a hundred options of what might happened next… and each one of them is effectively a new alternate reality” is a mite more original than “the butler did it” 😛

    And I feel like it works. It’s a cool, interesting observation, and to be honest, we’re a lot more invested in Sarah and her observations on multiple-being, than we are in the specific murder, and seeing justice done.

  2. There’s something… poignant… about the way the character that R0D0 deems the smallest loss, the most unworthy, is also the one Sarah that the narrator felt warmth and connection from.

    There’s a lot to be said here about how we consider our own might-have-beens. About the thought that one choice “kills off” another. But that particular point stands out to me.

    1. [uh, spoiler warning] I think there’s something to be said as well about the way that it reveals that grief makes it very difficult to empathize with people, even if that person is yourself. Here we have R0D0 who has set up so much of this to commit this one crime and has thought it through and decided that _this_ Sarah doesn’t deserve life. That she’s beyond saving. But that’s, you know, also rather her. You’d figure that if one person could understand the pain/complexity of your situation, it would be you, but it’s a situation where she’s literally her worst enemy, and instead of two people bonding because they feel isolated and hurt, the tragedy unfolds as it does…

      1. You know, I was thinking: you could actually go exactly the other way, in terms of murdering your alternate self. You could practically blase about it. Because in a way, every choice you make, is you murdering all those other alternate selves of yours, in favor of… yourself. The choices you chose to make. This… is kind of the same thing?

        (Actually if you really think about it, there are plenty of timelines where R0D0 doesn’t murder DJ Sarah. She gets to live! –just not in my timeline. I’m thinking it’s reeeeal easy to talk yourself into this one…)

  3. So, here’s a question that intrigues me:

    How much variety do you think is plausible, for one person?
    This huge range, from DJ to horse-trainer to brilliant scientist — does one person really have that many options?

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