Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Blue as Blood, by Leah Cypess

[F&SF]
★★★☆☆ Mixed

(Alien SF) The Pinj have done a lot for humanity, but they can’t abide the color blue. Nina grew up in a Pinj colony, and she has a lot of trouble adjusting to Earth because blue triggers her. (10,397 words; Time: 34m)


"Blue as Blood," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 01-02|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.039 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: I think this story is meant to depict the struggle anyone has overcoming a trigger than interferes with daily life.

Lots of people seem to confuse triggers with pet peeves, but what Nina experiences is the real deal. If it seems unlikely that someone could be trigged by the color blue, I have read an account of a foster child who was trigged by green—the color of the shirt the man who abused him wore.

The rest of Nina’s experience (hiding it, being ashamed, denying it, being angry that others don’t care, and acting out to punish everyone else) all rings true.

The story is very moving in many ways, and the ending is tragic because we know Nina will pay a very high price for this.

Con: The biggest problem I see is with her mother’s behavior at the end, allowing Nina to change the sky color to make everyone else experience what she does. That just wasn’t credible for many different reasons, not least of which being that it was so flexible that color and duration were easily changed before launch but utterly unchangeable after (and what about security)?

Separately, I don’t see how Nina would be triggered by a color she almost never saw. Triggers always (I think) are created by an association between a stimulus (e.g. the color of a shirt) and an awful event (e.g. being abused). Nina wasn’t abused; she was just deprived of the color.

And could she really be deprived of blue that way? What about her own veins? Did she never notice they were blue? Did she never get bruised?

Some of the text implied the aliens couldn’t even experience blue, in which case one would wonder why it was such a big deal for them.

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