Saturday, November 3, 2018

Intervention, by Kelly Robson

★★★★★ Rich Interplay of Characters and Setting

(SF Adventure; Lucky Peach) Jules loves children and has been doing crèche work for fifty years. Her final crèche graduates soon, and she’s got a choice of places in the solar system she might go. (8,736 words; Time: 29m)

Recommended By: 👍RHorton.r+2 👍RSR+2 (Q&A)

This is set in the Lucky Peach universe, but with different characters in a different place and time, so there's no issue with reading this first, nor any need to read the other material to enjoy this story.

"Intervention," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Review: 2018.619 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The best thing about this story is Jules’s interactions with the kids in the “Jewel Box,” particularly Tré. The descriptions of kids being kids (at various ages) are vivid and delightful.
As far as plot goes, Jules initially just seems to be going along for the ride, but it’s clear that she’s got a need to do something about the attitudes on Luna. Luna comes up often enough in her thoughts that we know she never put it behind her, even if she did cut all of her ex-friends dead. This makes the big meeting with the Lunarians very satisfying.

From the beginning, Tré stands out as different from his crèchemates. In the scene where he was six and was frightened by the boost, she worried that she’d failed him. That’s the point where they started forming a stronger mutual attachment. At the end, she comes full circle back to this when she jokes “I’ve done a terrible job raising you,” but at every major event along the way, something happens that binds the two of them closer together. It’s his fate to take care of her in her last years. He’s known it for a while, and he welcomes it. The ending, where Tré tell her he’s coming with her to Luna, is deeply moving precisely because we know clearly what they mean to each other.

Long Meng has a simpler arc, but still worthwhile. She has a vision for rebuilding the crèches on Luna, and she schemes to get Jules involved too. None of the rest of the staff matters.

None of the other kids matters either, but it’s cute that they all seem to be named after jewels in French:
(Technically “Safir” should be “Saphir,” but maybe French has changed over the centuries.) Even in this list, Trésor stands out. “One of these is not like the others.”

Con: Jules and her team seem to be too protective of the kids. Worrying that a teenager might be traumatized for life by a bad conversation on a train seemed a bit much.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating of 5-stars and the review. It can be read as a stand-alone story and it still works just fine.

    If anyone wants to give a Hugo nomination to the author, this is the story to give serious consideration to imo.

    It was all the references to "Luna not being a very nice place" in this story and reading "A Study in Oils" back to back that made me think the 2 stories are set in the same Lucky Peach universe.

    1. Yep. I contacted the author directly and confirmed these two plus a few others.