Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sidewalks, by Maureen F. McHugh

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(SF) Dr. Rosni Gupta examines Malni, a woman who’s institutionalized because she speaks gibberish. She’s sure it’s just another language, but what could it be? (5,789 words; Time: 19m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (edited by Ellen Datlow), appeared in issue 2017 Winter, published on by .

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

Pro: It’s fun figuring out Malni’s story. Early on, it seems likely she’s a time traveler, but she’s from a different present, and she and her friends destroyed her world when they travelled back about 1,000 years.

The details of how Dr. Gupta does her job add interest to the story.

Con: The language we speak in America today is descended from King Alfred’s language by about 1,000 years. So is Malni’s. Why would her language have changed so little compared with ours?

Dr. Gupta fears that our own world will be destroyed at any moment, but it’s not clear that Malni really destroyed her world; it’s plausible that the world she knew is still there, but she just can’t figure out how to get back to it.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating, but it is a decent 3. Worth the time and effort to read.

    A story that is open to interpretation depending on how one views / reads it.

  2. Reprinted online in Lightspeed 129 (Feb 2021):