Pro: The account of what it’s like to belong to (and join) a tight-knit group of “whalers” is entertaining. Narration and dialogue are spot on, and the plot is pretty much about how Doc learned to love someone again.
Con: I found it hard to sustain suspension of disbelief, and that spoiled the story for me. (…) The ending didn’t work for me either.
We as humans are all different and the story does a lovely job of showing what that can mean, how people can still find value in each other and in their relative seclusion, forming loose bonds that perhaps don’t offer as much cohesion but don’t bind, either. That exist to be supportive and caring without suffocating. And I like how the story establishes that with the crew of Mama, how the main character comes to stand for this voice of freedom even as they do yearn for relationships and company. And I just love how the piece builds up the bond between the main character and Ricci, how it reveals the potential that people have to build each other up, even as it never loses sight of how people can also tear each other down and apart. It’s a story with a great sense of wonder and fun, and it’s an amazing read!
What did you think? Read the story, and join the discussion in the comments!
Lots of reviews for this one — most of them full of spoilers! So go, read — or take this pull quote as incentive:
This is the single best warning and commentary on modern humanity I have ever read. Not only is it beautifully written, but insightful and deep. (…) It is a commentary made all the more potent by recent events. Do not miss this story. Read it until it sinks in.
Here’s all the reviews, in all their spoilerific glory:
This is the single best warning and commentary on modern humanity I have ever read. Not only is it beautifully written, but insightful and deep. It not only categorizes the dangers of fully-immersive VR, and by extension those of excessive gaming, but of the abuses that can occur where there is little prison oversight, and unchecked corporate greed. Between getting lost in the digitally constructed world, which is so immersive as to even create false memories, and the medications given to involuntary test subjects to manipulate their minds into believing the game’s input, it’s not hard to see how Marie could no longer distinguish between reality, how she became so hopelessly addicted to the world of the game that she was willing to do anything to get back. It’s equally not difficult to see how Benjamina would become so disillusioned with the victimization for profit that she had been a part of. Even less surprising is the half-hearted media coverage, or should we say, cover-up. Most striking is the apathy of so many people who make the game break sales records, in spite of the controversy. It is a commentary made all the more potent by recent events. Do not miss this story. Read it until it sinks in.
Bits of the story that feel like sly winks to our own reality (…) However, the bigger themes of the story are about truth and the nature of reality. Is it a lie if it feels real, if people don’t know they’re being lied to, if they can’t remember the lies they’re told? (…) ”Everybody from Themis Sends Letters Home” also touches on the idea of who has rights, who gets silenced, and who gets used as a tool by the system for “the greater good.”
Another one from Clarkesworld: “And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices,” by Margaret Ronald.
Recommended by BestSF, who writes:
“Because of it’s structure, mix of human and societal analysis, and an altogether different type of First Contact, I’m putting this forward for consideration for the Best SF Short Story Award 2016.”
Last year I read Gilman’s “Dark Orbit,” which had a fantastic High Concept (though execution was more debatable). Jumped at the chance to read a new short piece by Gilman. This, too, is a story of an encounter with a fundamentally alien form of being.