Sunday, October 9, 2016

Water Scorpions, by Rich Larson

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(SF) Noel's mom is trying to raise an alien child. Noel, age 10, hates this alien "brother" but can't seem to get that across to him. (3,519 words; Time: 11m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Disturbing, Moving, Engrossing
Recommended By: GDozois:4 RHorton:4

"Water Scorpions," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 10-11|16, published on by .

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

Pro: This is the story of how Noel learned to see Danny as a person, taking a big step towards being a man.

Lots of kids are cruel, and the intro shows Noel isn't just cruel to small creatures--he's cruel to his "brother" as well. As we learn more, we have more sympathy for Noel. He's mourning his sister, and Danny does create cause for resentment. (Human toddlers do that too.)

Noel is ready to hurt Danny, but he's not prepared to see Danny hurt himself. To realize that he really has been getting through to Danny--that he's made Danny want to die. More than that--that he doesn't want Danny to die. That it would be Maya all over again, but his fault this time.

The story leaves him sitting under the tarp, waiting to hear Danny echo "it's not your fault." The mere fact that he needs to hear that tells us he's not the same boy from the start of the story, and that's a fitting place to end it.

Con: It's a little hard to believe that the aliens re-engineered themselves to look a bit like human beings.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 10-11|16)
Rich Larson Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Thanks for sensitive review. This is my favorite story of the year so far.