Thursday, May 3, 2018

Inquisitive, by Pip Coen

★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Epic SF) Saffi is brilliant, but so eccentric that she has trouble relating to ordinary people. Not that she’s going to let that stand in her way. (7,552 words; Time: 25m)

"Inquisitive," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 05-06|18, published on by .

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

Pro: By the end of the story, Saffi has learned the value of love, and she knows how to use the office of Chief Inquisitor for good, not ill.

Con: And I don’t believe a word of that change in Saffi. The first 70% of the story is devoted to showing us that Saffi is a psychopath, someone with no empathy at all for other human beings. I found it absolutely impossible to believe her sudden discovery that ignoring love is bad.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I get your take and respect where you're coming from because she is a problematic character but I saw her differently. I can't diagnose her with correct clinical terms but she struck me as more autistic than psychopathic. She's definitely self-centered and lacking in social connections and doesn't see the sense in much social lubricant but she's not willfully malicious or evil. I think some groundwork for the end is laid in bits like where she insults people by telling the truth but is reprimanded for it and then does try to modify her behavior to tell the truth less forcefully and cause less distress. So her brokenness also relates to her not being able to understand or feel her mother's love but, when she finally groks it, it changes her. So I bought it, anyway, but I can see how it strains s-o-d.

    While we were very close on most stories, you seem to have liked all but a couple of stories a little more than I did and this was one of the two I liked more - it was probably my favorite of the issue if I had to pick one, though Dozois' was right there with it (with its character that ultimately was a *very* bad person).

    1. I also got the impression Saffi was supposed to be autistic, but because we (as readers) as inside Saffi's head, I didn't think that was the cause of her lack of feelings for others. Yes, she made some changes when told to, but (to me) that seemed to be under pressure, not because it was something she wanted to do.

      If you buy the change in her, though, I can see how this would be a very powerful piece. That's probably the only place we really differ on it.