Saturday, November 24, 2018

Some Personal Arguments in Support of the BetterYou (Based on Early Interactions), by Debbie Urbanski

Publication logo
[Strange Horizons]
★★★★☆ Shattering

(Near-Future Dark Fantasy) The narrator’s homelife has fallen apart since she told her husband she’s asexual, so they order a device that looks and talks like her, but with “improvements.” (6,334 words; Time: 21m)

"," by (edited by Jane Crowley and Kate Dollarhyde), appeared in issue 11/05/18, published on .

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

Review: 2018.664 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s easy to think that this story is about asexuality, but, as the author says, she lives “at the intersection of a sex-repulsed asexuality and depression,” and the depression is at least as big a problem for her. Without the depression, she might cope with her problem by divorcing, going back to school, starting a new career, but because of the depression, she sees no solutions anywhere. Note that the BetterYou is her husband's idea, not her own.

The BetterYou clearly intends, from the start, to replace her completely:
I asked my BetterYou where I belonged.

“Are you talking about you or me?” she asked.

“Me,” I said.

“You belong in a different world,” she said.

“How do I get to that different world?” I asked.

“You can’t get there,” she said. “You are stuck in the wrong world for the rest of your life.”

“That’s very upsetting to me,” I said.

“What’s upsetting about it?”

“That I’m stuck in the wrong world for the rest of my life.”

“At least I belong here. You should let that be enough. One of us, belonging here!”

“I don’t think that is going to be enough.”

“But look how happy you are,” she said, motioning to herself, to her face, and it’s true, she was smiling.
The narrator clearly plans suicide, “I will be grateful for her existence, as she makes my own existence less essential to my husband and children,” and the BetterYou intends to help her do it. The memory-erasure option she finally opts for is nothing short of suicide, after all. And neither her husband nor her children will miss her at all.

It’s a painful conclusion yet the story makes it feel inevitable.

Extra points for lampshading the problem that the sort of technology described in the story is extremely unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Con: It’s not a lot of fun reading about a depressed person. The persistent hopelessness is hard to bear. It also makes the ending less powerful since we don't sympathize with the narrator as much as we might if she had at least some endearing features.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 11/05/18)
Debbie Urbanski Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

Follow RSR on Twitter, Facebook, RSS, or E-mail.

No comments (may contain spoilers):

Post a Comment (comment policy)