Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Singles' Day, by Samantha Murray

★★★★☆ Four Stories in One

(Dystopia) An overcrowded Earth celebrates “Single’s Day” every November to honor those who stay single. And a few lucky people get a ticket on a starship to a new world. If they’re really ready to go. (9,027 words; Time: 30m)

"Singles' Day," by (edited by Andy Cox), appeared in issue 277, published on by .

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

Review: 2018.531 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The heart of this story is the way it gradually reveals the personal tragedies that led each of the four protagonists to want to leave Earth. Let’s look at each in turn:

Yu Yan gradually realizes that Robert is never going to commit to being with her. By leaving, she can keep her child and offer him/her a better future.

Carren is so alienated from her family and friends that she hasn’t even seen her own twin in over a year. As she implies, she’s already living on another world.

Jea, whose emotional responses are backwards from normal, knows she has no future on Earth, so she takes the offer eagerly.

Xanthe’s story is probably the saddest. She lost her whole family in an accident and hasn’t left her apartment in two years. It moved me to tears when I realized her brother had died with the rest of her family, and that her sole companion had been his simulation. Her leaving is the biggest victory of all.

Although it’s not a humorous story it’s kind of funny that even this kind of holiday gets celebrated by people going shopping.

Con: It’s hard to see how a single big shopping day a year would amount to much of an incentive to people not to reproduce. Or not to get married.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I also found this story quite moving, even though the background doesn't make a whole lot of sense: with overpopulation such an issue, you would think that the government would have adopted measures that are either far more enticing or downright coercive to discourage reproduction.

    1. Xanthe's story was so sad that even nine months later, it still hits me. Not many SF/F stories manage to generate that much emotional punch.

      But you're definitely right that the background doesn't seem to have been as well-thought-out as it should have been.