Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Grocer's Wife: Enhanced Transcription, by Michael Libling

(SF) Thomas is in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and his wife, Lynn, is trying to support him. Andy is spying on him, and wondering why the government is interested in a retired grocer. (5,471 words)

Rating: 4, Recommended

"The Grocer's Wife: Enhanced Transcription," by appeared in the February 2016 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction, published , by .

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

Pro: We can see the twist coming the first time Andy calls Lauren "Lynn," but it's deliciously creepy nevertheless. Thomas also completes a story arc, as does Lynn, who cares for him until death parts them.

The what-if is highly entertaining: "what if there were a conspiracy so crazy even the conspiracy theorists haven't thought it up: that the government is causing mental illness." It's cute the way he casually wraps a few conventional conspiracy theories into it.

Con: The story has some trouble deciding if it's serious or not. What happens to Andy ought to be horrifying, but the only real emotional moment in the story is when Lynn passes away.

The dialog is surprisingly uneven. In some places it's pitch-perfect, but in others it grates like fingernails on a blackboard.

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