Friday, September 22, 2017

Dear Sarah, by Nancy Kress

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(Military SF) The new tech the aliens gave us created a golden age for some and abject poverty for others. MaryJo joins the army to get out, knowing she may end up fighting rebels who are friends or relatives. (4,443 words; Time: 14m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Powerful Coming-of-Age Story

"Dear Sarah," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Pro: This story tells how MaryJo became an adult. She’s learned that things change, and you can’t stop that, but you do have choices, and you shouldn’t blame your situation on changes alone; your choices matter.

In the big showdown, MaryJo has to choose between her oath as a soldier and all the things she’d always believed about the Likkies. She chooses to honor her oath, implicitly accepting the changes they’ve caused in her world rather than joining Drucker and choosing “to kill anything that made change happen.”

By the end of the story, MaryJo has realized her family’s poverty results from the fact that they “chose to give up,” not because of the technological gifts from the Likkies. It ends on a cautiously optimistic note—that maybe someday jobs or people or aliens will change enough that she could go home and be with her family again.

The parallels with today’s problems in America are obvious, yet the author doesn’t beat you over the head with it. For example, the disruption from the new technology is real, but the author’s family have made it a racial issue.

Con: Drucker is a bit too cardboard to be an entirely satisfying villain.

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