Thursday, January 10, 2019

Fire in the Bone, by Ray Nayler

★★★★☆ Read carefully; things are not as they seem

(SF Colony) On an agricultural planet, on the night they celebrate the harvest, a young man plans a secret rendezvous with his forbidden lover. (5,635 words; Time: 18m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 148, published on .

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

Review: 2019.050 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story does a nice job of gradually introducing the elements of this society. We see the roles of the robots and the masters. We gradually realize the young narrator has a secret sweetheart. We also learn that the colony is completely isolated from the rest of colonized space, so whatever goes wrong here, there’s no one to help.

The twist at the end is massive, and yet it explains countless details of the story that seemed off up until then. The ritual dinner where no one eats anything—they just push food around on the plate. Or the comment that the narrator wasn’t badly “damaged” rather than that he wasn't badly “hurt.” Countless little details throughout the story testify to the fact that the masters are robots, and that the "robots" are the enslaved human colonists!

Con: The story puts its worst foot first, with the hard-to-believe harvester ship that then has no relevance to the plot.

There's no character development except of the nameless protagonist.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Very clever. I had wondered why there were no women at the estate. No eating at dinner. The weird joke about "building new robots." Conversely the robots seemed so lifelike. Hair pulled back in a ribbon. Very expressive faces and postures in the stain glass windows depictions. Then we see why.