Friday, March 9, 2018

Do As I Do, Sing As I Sing, by Sarah Pinsker

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(High Fantasy) When teenage Guerre is called to be a cropsinger, she makes a big sacrifice to serve her family and community, but her brother refuses to accept it. (8,688 words; Time: 28m)

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 246, published on .

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

Pro: This is essentially the story of how Guerre was determined to do her duty, even if it cost her her brother. She “abandons” Acco when she goes off to be trained, and she rejects him when he threatens her new role with his invention.

Acco isn’t exactly a sympathetic character. He runs away because of envy, not any desire to spare his sister the fate of a cropsinger. He acts like a jerk when he returns, but he’d always indulged in petty cruelties against her, so it’s hardly a surprise (even if it’s disappointing) that she ruined his big demonstration.

Only when she reflects on it does she realize that she’s not only driven him away; she’s also doomed her village to follow the old ways for longer, and doomed herself to losing half her days in a trance and aging faster than her years.

Con: The ending was jarring. It was hard to feel much sympathy for Guerre after the way she sabotaged Acco’s demonstration.

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I can understand why Guerre did what she did. Given the way Acco was behaving, her concern that he wouldn't listen to her if she told him about the deformity in the seedling seems warranted, and the village could have starved if the artificially-grown plants didn't reach maturity or produce viable seeds.

    1. I think I understand why she did it, but do you think she did the right thing?

    2. I'm not sure. I think her heart was in the right place. A better solution might have been to propose some compromise where Acco's machine sings for half the fields and Guerre sings for the other half. But Acco's behavior made it reasonable for Guerre to think he wouldn't accept a compromise and that more drastic action was needed to protect the village. In the end, I'm not sure she did the right thing, but it didn't make her unsympathetic to me.

    3. I just felt so bad for him when his demonstration failed. And he clearly trusted his sister to tell him the truth--it didn't occur to him that she'd sabotaged him. Yeah, he was a jerk when they were kids, and, yeah, he was arrogant, but he seemed so down that it touched my heart--and made me think less of her.

      Of course the one she really hurt the most was herself.