Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Province of Saints, by Robert Reed

★★★☆☆ Average

(Medical SF) The Billings family had all the power and wealth in town, but they all died in a house fire except for one survivor, whom the police struggle to interview to learn what really happened. (5,877 words; Time: 19m)

Recommended By: 👍STomaino+1 (Q&A)

"The Province of Saints," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 01-02|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.034 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: In a future where drugs can cure sociopaths (more or less), this story explores the question of what would happen if people took a drug that make them truly have empathy for other people. Nothing good, if we judge by how the Billings family handled it.

At another level, this is the story of Mary Sue’s revenge. Her family had always tormented her for being ugly and for being a failure, so making them feel what they’d really done to her was ideal revenge. Them all killing themselves was just icing on the cake.

Finally, one has to laugh when a story actually features “Mary Sue” as one of the characters! Particularly when she's anything but a Mary Sue.

Con: I found the interview dialogue a little hard to believe for some reason. I know Mitch already knew Mary Sue, but he still seemed way too accommodating.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Intriguing story, but I found it too pessimistic to think that extreme empathy could lead to a situation like this.

    1. Yeah, if just having empathy for her was that bad, how did she even survive being her?