Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Mind Is Its Own Place, by Carrie Vaughn

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(SF) Mitchell was a navigator on the Francis Drake, but something terrible happened. The doctors tell him he's losing his mind, but he doesn't believe them. If only he could remember what happened. (11,768 words; Time: 39m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Award-Worthy
Recommended By: SFRevu:4 GDozois:4

"," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 09|16, published on by .

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

Pro: All the way to the end we're not sure whether Mitchell really has OSDS or if he witnessed something he wasn't supposed to see and he's been dumped in the clinic. Or even whether he really did develop the ability to teleport himself and the powers that be wanted to prevent that. Only when the memory comes back do we know the truth. More importantly, he knows it too. His career is over, and he's probably going to die, but for a moment, at least, he knows the truth. And he uses that moment to give some advice to the doctors.

Mitchell is an awfully good guy. We grieve for what happened to him, but it's elating that even in his situation, he still wants to help other people.

This story is an excellent example of solid narration, realistic dialogue, and good pacing. It sucks you in and holds you all the way to the end.

Con: The science is a little mixed up. The description of matrices is a bit off, inasmuch as it's hard to imagine someone sifting through a list of them and picking one. The description of walking in a rotating space station and realizing you were walking along a spoke "because it was flat" is very wrong; you'd know you were in a spoke because you were climbing a ladder, not walking.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 09|16)
Carrie Vaughn Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

6 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. It is almost that the twist at the end is that there is no twist? That's a clever way of using my genre expectations against me.

  2. Did anybody catch that "Dr. Keesey" is a reference to (I assume) Ken Kesey, the author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?"

  3. I rate it ★★★★, one less than RSR. It's not quite as good as My Generations Shall Praise (I'm nominating it in the Short Story category) which also puts you in the mind of an insane protagonist, but one who's not as likeable as Mitchell. Both do an impressively convincing job of showing you their protagonists' warped "reality" but I found My Generations more exciting than this story.

    1. I'd agree that My Generations Shall Praise is the stronger of the two, but of course I liked them both!

  4. 4-stars from me.

    Good story overall, but some things that bugged me.

    We never know what is the risk - statistically or % to make it "Acceptable".

    We don't know why so many navigators are willing to take this risk (aside from loving the work, and needing to go into space).

    Are there guarentee healthcare and pensions for those affected?

    They've had this illness for 100 years but the doctors act like they are just discovering or noticing patterns in its occurence ? It is conceivable that space travel has increased to the point where there are now a total of 5 current living patients with it, but they still would have had a 100 years worth of cases to study and ID a pattern in its occurence.

    2 orderlies / nurses shown for a ward of 5 patients ?