Monday, November 27, 2017

The Big So-So, by Erica L. Satifka

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(Post-Apocalypse) Syl thinks people ought to at least try to put civilization back together—not just sit around moping about how great the alien drugs that destroyed it were. And she worries about her friend who wants to break into the aliens’s compound and steal some. (5,200 words; Time: 17m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Strong Characters in an Interesting Setting

"The Big So-So," by (edited by Andy Cox), appeared in issue 273, published on by .

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

Pro: Although Syl doesn’t really trigger it, she’s part of the event on the day that people start shaking off the effect of the drug and rebuilding their lives. “Restarting civilization required action, not even important action, but something.” And then she learns that Dorky’s people are going to synthesize the drug and dump it into the water again.

There’s a deeper meaning here, of course. The “Utopia” where everyone is drugged up, happy as can be, and feeling no pain is a real nightmare, and yet in most high-tech utopias, people serve no real purpose either. The ultimate goal of progress is pretty scary if you stare at it directly.

The aliens who just pick the chosen few and leave everyone else behind sound a lot like visions of the future where almost all jobs are automated, but the handful of people with useful skills become an elite class who parasitize the rest.

There’s probably more here, but that’s what seems obvious to me.

A real pleasure of the story is Syl’s character. Her plain-spoken practicality is consistently amusing. A favorite was “It took an alien invasion to do it, but I’m finally the best-dressed one in the room.”

Con: Syl is more an observer than an actor in the story. It’s hard to really believe that Dorky is even walking around if the pleasure-juice has been reinvented. I’d expect her and her partners to be zoned out on it full-time—I don’t see them waiting for everyone else or even caring about anyone else.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 273)
Erica L. Satifka Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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