Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Utopia, LOL?, by Jamie Wahls

[Strange Horizons]
★★★★★ Hysterical and yet Touching

(SF Humor) After Charlie is unfrozen, Kit guides him around the future. It’s, like, TOTALLY not what he expected, and yet, like, kinda familiar, LOL. (5,025 words; Time: 16m)

Recommended By: RHorton+2 JMcGregor+1 CPayseur+2

"," by (edited by Jane Crowley and Kate Dollarhyde), appeared in issue 06/05/17, published on .

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

Pro: Kit’s voice is pitch-perfect. She’s a big part of what makes the whole thing so funny. E.g. Floor Tile Simulator. “I’m really underselling it.” ROFLMAOUITU, as they say.

Beneath the hilarity, though, there’s serious business. First, it seems unlikely that Charlie will ever be happy in this “utopia.” Second, for all of her silliness, Kit doesn’t seem deeply attached to it either. She never talks about any specific friends, for example. Obviously, there’s a reason she’s the only option Allocator considers for guiding newcomers. We also learn that she’s actually a bit sad about what’s happened to the real world (aka “Universe Zero”).

Finally, Allocator has an impossible problem: its own programming leads inevitably to the destruction of the human race and most of the solar system because it cannot stop humanity from increasing its numbers. (Big points that it cannot “change its programming,” by the way.)

The resolution makes complete sense and has a strong emotional kick to it. Allocator has been sending individuals from Earth's past out to the stars to give humanity a chance at a future. And Kit has been training them. The hanger bay is almost empty, so they've been doing this for quite a while, and the end must be very near. Kit's decision to consent to Allocator wiping her memory yet again so she can train the next resurrectee makes total sense--it's the only thing she can do that actually has any chance of making a difference. Bravo!

Con: The juxtaposition of silly humor with serious business may not work for everyone.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 06/05/17)
Jamie Wahls Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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9 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Spoiler for August Locus ... I liked this a lot, too!

  2. This one really hit the spot for me as well.

    1. And it proves that I can give five stars to a humor story. :-)

  3. Leave with him? The hanger's not quite empty yet.

  4. I realized I missed the implications of the ending, and I've revised the review to reflect that. If anything, the story is even stronger than I first thought it was.

    1. Ah, good. I think I did have to re-read the ending before it clicked.

  5. Loved the story, and agree with your 5-star rating. Very entertaining. My fave of the Nebula short-story nominees so far (one to go).

    If anyone here sees this on Goodreads, please post a link. They're in process of redoing (screwing up) their short-fiction listings. TIA, PT

    1. Yeah, Goodreads librarians deleted all issues of Strange Horizons back in Jan. I had many of them, some with reviews, and poof, gone.

  6. I don't get this story.

    Even after reading the RSR review and the other comments, I still don't get parts of this story.

    Did not work for me.