Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Heart's Cartography, by Susan Jane Bigelow

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(Time Travel) The time travelers across the road think they’re being clever, but Jade’s family spotted them right away. Even so, they’ve got a daughter her age, and she wants to make friends. (4,908 words; Time: 16m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Witty, Clever, and Moving

"," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 84, published on .

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

This is Jade’s coming-of-age story.

This story speaks to the real pain that a young transsexual girl feels. Not as bad as even a few decades ago, because she has the Internet to educate her and to put her in touch with other people like her. She knows the world is changing, but not fast enough, and not where she lives.
Please change faster. Please change faster. Please change here too.
Please don’t forget about us.
Because Sally accepts a trans friend without a second thought, Jade gets to spend a summer being accepted as a girl unconditionally--she gets to live in the future she dreams of. She and Sally are lonely for different reasons, and they become fast friends. Something Jade had never thought she’d have.

But another aspect of Jade’s character is her deep love of nature and of her home. When Sally wants her to come with her family, promising all the benefits of the future (presumably including flawless sexual-reassignment surgery), Jade declines. (We also had hints that the future is really strange.) She belongs to the land, and for all the pain she’ll suffer staying, it’s what’s really important. She got a taste of having a real friend. Of being a “real” girl. Now she’s content.

At the end, Sally manages to give her a gift. She shows her the briefest vision of her future self—happy and accomplished. Telling her that she’ll have the strength to make it and that it will get better.

The future Sally cries but the future Jade laughs. Possibly this is because Sally sees the pain that Jade still has to face, but Jade sees that she's able to handle it.

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Susan Jane Bigelow Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I also thought this was excellent - a beautifully drawn friendship and an affecting story.

  2. Also a rare story about a trans woman. Those almost don't exist in SFF (I think I've seen just one other in 3 years), although trans men are very common.

  3. Really, really beautiful and hopeful! Loved it!

  4. The friendship is very well done. This is an excellent story, and very hopeful.

    I agree with the rating and the comments