Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Common Sea, by Steve Rasnic Tem

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(Near-Future SF) Trips from flooded Miami to the trading post are always hazardous, especially for an old man, but Tom needs supplies for his family. (6,610 words; Time: 22m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Realistic, Tense, Moving

"The Common Sea," by (edited by Andy Cox), appeared in issue 269, published on by .

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

Pro: Tom’s love for his wife comes through loud and clear, and his pain at her condition and his dread of the day he loses her are very real. In a way, her condition is a metaphor for the state of the whole world, or at least the part he lives in.

Superficially, the plot is quite simple: he simply needs to get to The Dock, buy his supplies, and get back in one piece. From the concerns he’s conveyed to Debbie, we’re tense about Tom’s visit to The Dock, and that tension continues when he gets lost on his way back.

When Debbie “turns the house into a lighthouse,” it’s not only heartwarming that she’s saved him—it shows the he has sold her short. She’s not helpless at all. He acknowledges this when he tells her they’ll all go to The Dock together next time.

The description of the impact of sea-level rise is probably the best I’ve seen yet. Flooded areas are devastated, but the rest of the world is still functioning. Even Tom’s Social-Security card still works. Like poor Jenny, things don't stop all at once. They fall apart gradually.

Con: Tom’s visions of some other world just don’t fit. Or at least, I don't see what they're supposed to mean.

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Steve Rasnic Tem Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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