Wednesday, March 16, 2016

That Game We Played During the War, by Carrie Vaughn

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(SF) Despite not being a telepath, Calla worked out a way to play chess with her captor, Major Larn, during the recent war. Now they're going to finish their game. (6,253 words; Time: 20m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Moving and memorable
Recommended By: GDozois:5 RHorton:5

"," by (edited by Ann VanderMeer), published on by .

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

Pro: The chess game quickly becomes a metaphor for the peace, which is something of a reversal. It shows a way telepaths and non-telepaths can work together. It also represents closure for Calla, who clearly came to love the Major and wants a way to be with him.

Con: The telepathy in the story is too powerful. It works independent of language, it has infinite bandwidth, and it can even take people's skills, not just their thoughts. And it has no drawbacks at all. It's hard to believe Enith ever stood a chance against Gaant.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 03/16/16)
Carrie Vaughn Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

7 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Really wonderful characterization. I was surprised how much their relationship touched me in such a short space. I teared up at the end. The only thing I found hard to believe was that there wouldn't be some Gaantish non-telepaths and some Enithi telepaths when they're neighboring countries.

  2. I updated this one from a three to a four just now, since it has proven to be very memorable.

  3. I agree with RSR's ★★★★ rating. It illustrates a strength of SF, which is taking an interesting what-if -- telepathy in this case -- and works out the sometimes unexpected consequences and leaves you thinking through more scenarios even after the story is over. With the use of well crafted characters and the game of chess as metaphor for the war, Vaughn lifts the story above average.

  4. I can't make up my mind if this is a 4-star or a 5-star story. Possibly a 4 + half star for me. It does stand out, both in the writing, the story and the emotional impact at the end. It is quite a strong piece.

  5. This is a touching read, heavy on backstory and the emotional life of its characters, but never boring. The world feels unusually rich and expansive for such a short story.


    1. At NorWesCon a couple of years ago, I chatted with someone from US military intelligence and asked how you'd run a resistance against an opponent that routinely used telepaths to read the minds of people they captured. He thought about it for a couple of days and ended up saying he didn't see how you could do it.