Sunday, May 6, 2018

Farewell, Doraemon, by A Que

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Chinese SF) A young man fleeing the ruin of his career returns to his home village seeking the first girl he ever loved and a resolution to a mystery that has haunted him. (23,072 words; Time: 1h:16m)

"," by (translated by Emily Jin and Ken Liu, edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 140, published on .

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

Pro: The strongest thing about this story is the way it brings the elementary-school experience of a young Chinese boy to life. The saddest thing is the teacher pleading with people to let their children get an education and not send them off to work in factories.

As the story progresses, it’s increasingly clear that Zhou feels he ruined his life, and that it all started right here when Lao Tang stole the metal from him and then got hit by the car, ruining several lives all at the same time. It’s not clear what will happen to Zhou in the past, but he’s given up on himself anyway; he’s content to have given his younger self a new chance.

One can argue whether it's good or bad, but the story completely subverts the expected message of accepting that the past is gone, moving on, and determining to make the best of the future. Here, the past can be changed, Zhou does change it, and, in the process, gives up on his own future.

Con: The biggest problem with the story is that the speculative element is so slight. There are only vague hints of it right up to the point where Zhou learns about the time travel from Ms. Chen. Her explanation to Zhou is the weakest part of the book—the only place where the dialogue and narration break suspension of disbelief.

With a different ending, this story wouldn’t be SFF at all.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 140)
A Que Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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