Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Woman Who Destroyed Us, by S.L. Huang

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Medical SF) A mother feels that a brain implant meant to treat her neuro-atypical son has turned him into a completely different person, so she goes after the doctor who put them up to it. (10,291 words; Time: 34m)

Recommended By: πŸ“™JStrahan+2 (Q&A)

"The Woman Who Destroyed Us," by (edited by Wade Roush), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Review: 2018.626 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story has very deep themes about when a person has changed enough to make him/her into a different person and when it’s okay to cause a person to change. It doesn’t really offer a firm answer, but that’s okay; it’s an area where we really don’t have all the answers.

Aside from that, it’s about how Maggie finally accepts the man her son has become, and, despite the awful deception she used in her aborted attack on Dr. Chen, she seems to have become a better person.

Looking that the intellectual problem the story poses, the most obvious test for morality of a particular brain transformation would be to allow the person to experience it for a while, turn it off, let him/her readjust to the status quo ante, and then ask if he/she wanted it turned back on. Even Maggie agreed that Hank would want it turned back on, so (by this test) there’s nothing to be upset about.

Con: The ending feels sloppy somehow. Maggie stops herself from doing irreversible damage, but she still pays a high price for her bad behavior, and somehow it just feels unsatisfying. Perhaps the problem is that the climax came when she decided to leave one working copy, so all the action after that was anticlimactic.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Now reprinted online at Lightspeed 127 (Dec 2020): https://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-woman-who-destroyed-us/