Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Two-Year Man, by Kelly Robson

★★★★★ Award-Worthy

Mikkel isn't very bright, but he cleverly supplements his janitorial job by scavenging useful items his superiors discard and bringing them home to his wife--then one day he brings home a mutant baby. (4,773 words; Time: 15m)

Recommended By: πŸ“™NClarke+2 πŸ‘LTilton+2 πŸ‘RSR+2 (Q&A)

"," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 08|15, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2015.478 (A Word for Authors)

There seems to be a richly detailed world behind this story--where the number of years of service you put into the conflict on the colony worlds somehow determines your caste when you get back. (Are there any zero-year guys?) Horrible as the "baby" is, we really do feel Mikkel's love for it.

The "what-if" of the story subsumes the hard-to-believe bits (i.e. that a mutant baby with a beak is even possible). This works so well that it doesn't even bother us on rereading. And the emotional punch is strong. Not just because we feel Mikkel's pain but because we see through his naive eyes the sort of pain that everyone else is in as well.

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7 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This is worth reading. It is a strong story.

    The author is eligible to be nominated for a Campbell award as she is 1st published this year.

  2. This is an example of a story that forced me to change my rating system. I knew as soon as I finished it that it was a 5, but the system I had then would have given it a 2.

    It certainly does haunt you, doesn't it?

  3. I know you already have a link to the story on the author's own site. But as a backup, it's also now available at Clarkesworld:

    (Incidentally, I don't know if your word count was from Asimov's, but Clarkesworld has 4,773 and Kelly's site rounds it up to 4,800. Short story regardless and not exactly crucial on a 3-year-old story, but I thought I'd mention it.)

    1. Thanks, good to have a backup on a magazine's site in case the author's own site gets redone or goes away.

    2. That's from back when we were believing the word counts in the Kindle, so the Clarkesworld number is doubtless correct. I'll add this to the fix list. Thanks!

  4. Oh, at Clarkesworld, Kate Baker will probably be doing a podcast...although it's not there yet.

    1. Kate Baker's podcast is here:

      And StarShipSofa also has another here: