Monday, December 14, 2015

Atheism and Flight, by Dominica Phetteplace

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(SF) A young man who just lost his arm in an accident struggles to adjust to his loss. And something funny is happening to the stump. (7,438 words; Time: 24m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average
Recommended By: RHorton:4

"Atheism and Flight," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 01|16, published on by .

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

Pro: It is a complete story. At the start, he wants to make that jump. At the end, he does it. The regrowing arm is part of the what-if, and nothing else really demands suspension of disbelief.

Con: The protagonist isn't very likable, but a bigger problem is it's unclear what it's all about. His arm regrows, but nothing is done with that. His jump is something he could have done with just one arm. Perhaps there's a spiritual journey here, but I'm not seeing it. He seems every bit as shallow at the end as he was at the start.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This one really resonated with me.

    It's hard to put my finger on what, exactly; the regrowing arm has no direct link to the story's climax, but I think the author managed to create a powerful resonance between the impossibility of the protagonist's arm mending itself and the final leap - they're both expressions of immense pain and need and broken-ness, breaking out and doing the impossible. And also: the difference between doing the impossible; and being perfect. Doing the impossible doesn't free you from the pain. It's an expression of it.

    I absolutely loved the final jump. It came out of nowhere and made no sense, and yet worked so well for me.

    I don't feel like the protagonist is shallow at the beginning or at the end; I'm mostly seeing him/her as somebody who's been thoroughly broken and who lives their life aching. That's how I saw the story: as aching.

    YMMV, of course, but I really liked it :)

    1. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he's just as broken at the end as he was at the start. It's not clear that either regrowing the arm or making the jump made any real difference to him.

      What was moving to me was the way his two friends were both there for him, doing everything they could to support him. Unconditional love is hard not to respect--even when it's hard to see why the object merits it.