Friday, August 12, 2016

Now is the Hour, by Emily Devenport

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(SF) Mabie wins the lottery and decides to use the money to rescue her family from poverty on planet Hardcase by moving to a different planet. (4,278 words; Time: 14m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by , appeared in issue 119, published on .

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

Pro: This is a tremendously moving story. When the little boy went out the airlock with his cat because otherwise he'd die "alone and scared," I gasped out loud.

In a way, this story parallels the story of Job, with the loss of family and health in the middle and the restoration of it at the end. It even had god-like creatures, although they're not to blame for the original problem.

Con: The story is shamelessly manipulative. Of course we cry over a little boy who loves his cat.

Maybie isn't much of a protagonist; after getting everyone killed, she gets rescued by gods who make everything better. She doesn't earn the good outcome, and it leaves me feeling as though none of it was real.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Greg, thank you so much for your review. I respectfully disagree on one point. I think Maybe does earn her happy ending -- by keeping the horrible memories she would rather not have. She owns the mistake that got her family in such deep trouble. And I believe the aliens rescue this family because of their love for each other -- if they had been monsters, no one would bother. But I respect your right to feel differently about it. Thanks for giving a hoot one way or the other.

  2. I agree that she does own the mistake. That adds a great deal of punch to the story, since we know she blames herself for the catastrophe. That said, the reader is rightly furious with the people who cheated her. This is definitely a story that powerfully engages the emotions. Good job on that.

    Generally, in order for me (as a reader) to 100% believe that a protagonist has earned his or her happy ending, I need to feel that that character actively did something to achieve it and knowingly paid a price for it. Whatever the motivations of the aliens, Maysie wasn't expecting them to save her family, and therefore she wasn't actively involved in it; it's just a surprise gift they gave her. I did note that her keeping her unhappy memories was a cost, but it's not a cost she consciously chose to pay. More broadly, Maysie's lack of agency is my biggest problem with the story as a whole. Different readers (and reviewers) are apt to feel differently, of course.

    Thanks for responding to the review. It's always nice to hear from writers and editors.