Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Gleaners, by Sarina Dorie

★★★★☆ Thought-provoking, with interesting characters

(Alien Visitor) An alien occupies an Earth woman’s body as part of an exchange program, but not everyone approves. (4,606 words; Time: 15m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘RSR+1 πŸ‘STomaino+1 (Q&A)

"The Gleaners," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 11-12|18, published on by .

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

Review: 2018.566 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This story does an excellent job of making us feel what a marvelous thing it is to be human and to be alive. It seems to say that there is no meaningful joy without pain, but the joy is worth it.

The alien has enjoyed its time in Sherry’s body, but with time running out, it’s a little frustrated that it hasn’t had broader experiences. When it meets Chip by accident, it enjoys the experience enough to start breaking the rules and getting more experiences, like eating forbidden foods, exploring forbidden memories, and having forbidden conversations.

We know Chip is a good guy from the moment he lets it in his house with the pie. His mourning for his son makes his own opposition to the gleaners more understandable, and it’s gratifying that he decides he’ll talk to the alien occupying his son’s body once he realizes that enough of his son remains for it to be hurt by his rejection.

We learn an awful lot about Sherry too, even though she only has a few lines at the very end. The alien has definitely learned enough to know what pushes her buttons, and it’s darkly funny that she decides she’ll spend more time “spreading the gospel” rather than come back and confront her ex-husband.

Finally, the comic relief from the way the alien missuses the language is simple, but effective. E.g. when Chip says, “Who am I to do that to someone?” and it answers, “I don’t know. Who are you?”

Con: There’s something self-centered about the alien that makes me uncomfortable. Its completely callous in its treatment of Sherry, once it decides to break the rules. It has no actual empathy other than what it gets from Sherry’s residual personality, which means it’s effectively a sociopath.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 11-12|18)
Sarina Dorie Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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

No comments (may contain spoilers):

Post a Comment (comment policy)