Friday, November 4, 2016

Natural Skin, by Alyssa Wong

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(Horror) In near-future Toronto, a young Chinese-Canadian girl sneaks out to seek the services of an illegal underground surgeon. (4,140 words; Time: 13m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended
Recommended By: SFRevu:4

"," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 78, published on .

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

Info: Some things are a bit clearer if you know some Cantonese:

Neh yiu mut lun? (What do you want?)
Nei di Zhao zung ji-si? (Is ji-si Zhao there?)
Faan uk kei. (Go home.)
Nay hou duk yi, dan hai nay jun hai hou soh. (You're clever, but you're naive.)

Pro: The plot is very tight, even though we don't quite realize what the narrator's goal is until near the end. The author does an excellent job of making it clear that the narrator does have some affection for her sister, which makes her betrayal singularly horrifying. We sympathize with the narrator's bad situation, we wish the best for her, we dread that she's making a big mistake with the ji-si (which adds a lot of tension), and this makes the ending not just horrifying but also tragic.

Almost to the last moment, we're desperately hoping that she isn't really going to sell her sister to that butcher. That this will somehow turn out to be a trap and she'll collect a reward from the police or something. But the story doesn't take that easy out, and it's much stronger for it.

Con: It's hard to imagine that either the narrator or the ji-si will get away with this.

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