Friday, July 6, 2018

Recoveries, by Susan Palwick

★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(SF) An anorexic woman has an unhealthy co-dependent relationship with her alcoholic roommate, her “friend” since childhood. But she also has a monstrous secret. (7,955 words; Time: 26m)

"," by (edited by Ellen Datlow), published on by .

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

Pro: This is the story of how Kat got up the gumption to “come out” to Vanessa as a space alien. It’s almost worth reading the rest of the story just to see Kat finally stand up to Vanessa.

Much of what makes Kat such an unsympathetic character at the start of the story is fully explained when we learn she’s not really human. Kat thinks she’s an alien, but given her ability to eat humans, she’s clearly native to the Earth; her folk stories imply as much. It’s clear why the real aliens weren’t interested in her.

Best line: “Her parents have delegated their parental responsibilities to the aliens, who don’t seem to be coming.”

Con: What sinks this story is that the characters are so unpleasant and disagreeable that it’s painful to spend almost 8,000 words with them. Maybe there are people who want to read about alcoholics and their co-dependents, but I’m not one of them. Not when the characters have no redeeming qualities.

By the time the story reveals that Kat isn’t human, I was already completely turned off and never managed to get back into it. Kat’s problems seemed entirely her own creation—a sick person who refuses to see a doctor is hard to sympathize with. And, alien or not, she kept letting Vanessa use her as a doormat. The excuse (offered very late) that she thought Vanessa’s parents might really be onto something doesn’t fly; if that were true, she’d have hung out with them, not their alcoholic asshole daughter.

A smaller point is that the use of present tense for flashbacks really doesn’t work.

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