Thursday, March 9, 2017

Waiting Out the End of the World in Patty's Place Cafe, by Naomi Kritzer

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Apocalyptic) The narrator wants to spend the last hours before the asteroid strike with her parents, but she runs out of gas in the middle of South Dakota. (4,137 words; Time: 13m)

Recommended By: GDozois+2 Readers+0

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 126, published on .

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

Pro: There’s a good bit of tension simply waiting to find out if the asteroid misses or not. The story subverts the trope by having it miss. Likewise, the narrator decides to reject her parents rather than try to make up with them, which subverts a different trope.

It's consistent with what we know of human nature in other sorts of catastrophes that many people just keep doing their regular jobs. It’s more comfortable than sitting home and quietly waiting for the end.

Con: The narrator never gives her parents a chance, and this makes us think less of her. As a gay person who’s been “out” since the 1970s, I’ve got a good idea of how bad it can be, but most of the cases I know of where someone contacted his/her family after a few years of silence resulted in happy reunions with at least some of their family members. When there hadn’t been physical abuse, anyway.

On the scientific side, there’s no way the asteroid would be just hours away without astronomers have a great deal of confidence whether it would hit or not. Observations from ordinary telescopes would suffice for that.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Yeah, I can see deciding to stay, but I was a little disappointed that she didn't at least try to call her parents again.

  2. I think this is a 4.

    I can see why she decided to stay. Her parents were mad at her for just "not wanting to return home after college". Never mind anything else that they may have heard about Lorien since.