Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Pulse of Memory, by Beth Dawkins

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Generation Ship) Calvin can’t wait to eat the fish in the memory tank so he can reclaim the memories of those who went before. (5,100 words; Time: 17m)

"," by (edited by Jason Sizemore), appeared in issue 116, published on .

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

Review: 2019.044 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: A big problem with generation ships is the question of who will operate the ship after the first generation passes away. The carefully selected crew aren’t likely to have children exactly like them, so many key roles would end up with no one to fill them. This story handles that by having the fish consume the older members and then transfer their knowledge and abilities to younger ones. No need to education or training or anything.

Cal’s grandmother didn’t allow for just how much Cal wanted to keep the existing system. His refusal to cooperate leads to his premature death.

Con: It doesn’t quite seem to hold together. If his grandmother made the chip or knew where it was, then why didn’t she just give it directly to her co-conspirators. And what is this chip supposed to do anyway?

A separate problem is that it’s pretty gross, and Calvin seems to be a sociopath, which makes him hard to root for.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Reading this story while I was eating lunch was a really bad idea. :P It reveled too much in the visceral aspects of the two fish rituals.

    1. I have thought about adding a "gross" tag for stories that are bad to read while eating. Once or twice I've added a warning note above the fold that a story was "only for those with strong stomachs" but that's usually for stories with graphic mutilation of living human beings.