Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Atonement Path, by Alex Irvine

★★★☆☆ Average

(SF Horror) A guide explains his world’s novel treatment for adolescent criminals. (2,681 words; Time: 08m)

Recommended By: SFRevu+1

"The Atonement Path," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 99, published on .

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

Review: 2018.429 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story makes my heart ache for the poor victims of this system of "atonement." The realization that John is only there to abuse people who can't fight back makes it that much worse.

Con: It’s pretty gruesome, and it’s difficult to see what the point of it is. Why mutilate and abuse only the young criminals? If there’s a message here, I’m not getting it.

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I read the story as having John (ironic name) take the person on the Atonement Path to a hotel only for sexual purposes, with no intention of rescue. I thought this explained the narrator's disdain for John at the end.

  2. I read the ending the same way Victoria did - as abuse, not rescue. The ritualistic last line suggests that the person has been forced to do John a service.

  3. Hmmm. I think I early on assumed that John disapproved of Atonement and stuck to that interpretation at the end. Since we never hear what John says nor see what he does except through Andrew's eyes, that makes it a bit more challenging, but, on rereading it, I realize that your (pl) interpretation is a much better one. I just read too much into Andrew's defensiveness at the start of the story, assuming he was responding to criticism from John. That's a big enough error I'll add it to the fix list. Thanks!

    I'm not sure it makes the story any better, though.