Thursday, April 12, 2018

What to Do When It's Nothing but Static, by Cassandra Khaw

★★★☆☆ Mixed

(Near-Future SF) Eng’s daughter has set her up with a blind date. Naturally she brings all of her sisters along. (2,727 words; Time: 09m)

"What to Do When It's Nothing but Static," by (edited by Jason Sizemore), appeared in issue 107, published on .

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

Pro: : From the background conversation (“we just save South China Sea”) we gather that Eng and her sisters are heroes, and they’ve sacrificed a lot for their country (or for the Earth). Even heroes need love, though, and the story ultimately seems to be about how Eng made a start at beginning a new relationship.

Con: The most serious problem with the story is that it’s entirely a character story, and yet we end up knowing very little about Eng. Almost as bad, Eng and her sisters have a fascinating job, yet we get only tantalizing hints about what it's about.

The speculative element is disposable; set the story in the present, give the sisters government jobs, and I don’t think much changes.

A few word-choice problems kept jarring me out of the story. E.g. “thoughts tessellating,” (i.e. thoughts are tiling a plane like a mosaic or jigsaw puzzle) “languidly handsome,” (handsome in slow motion?) and “my erstwhile daughter” (used to be my daughter but not anymore?!) all seemed rather odd.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 107)
Cassandra Khaw Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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7 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Greg, you just cover originals right? This is a reprint from a 2017 self-publication.

    1. Yep, but something I slip up. Apex marked it "Original Short Story" and I didn't look any further. Thanks for pointing it out.

    2. Hmm, my copy says, "Originally published on Patreon, 2017." Although that's at the end of the story. And Jason didn't say anything in his editorial either. Be nice if it was on the TOC.

    3. @Laura. Actually, now that you mention it, I did see that--but I stupidly thought that 2017 was this year!

    4. :) Yup, 4 months in and I'm still catching myself thinking the same sometimes.

  2. Sure thing. It's happened to me, too - I wish the zines would be clearer about that. Something like "'Such and Such' [REPRINT] by So and So" would get my vote. :)