Friday, March 8, 2019

Contagion's Eve at the House Noctambulous, by Rich Larson

[F&SF]
★★★★☆ Gripping, Memorable, and Profoundly Disturbing

(Post-Apocalypse Dystopia) Young Burgewick will prove his manhood at tonight’s hunt, but even though he’s part of the ruling class, he feels sympathy for the abused servants and even the synthetic things he’ll be hunting. (7,954 words; Time: 26m)


"Contagion's Eve at the House Noctambulous," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 03-04|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.152 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story depicts a believable, if horrible, future world where a small elite holds total control via nanotech and genetic technologies. Burgewick has a good heart, but, as the story shows, that has no place in this world.

Burgewick is the only likable character in the story; up until the very end, everyone else who seems to show signs of human kindness reveals him/herself to be a monster. Ultimately, this is the story of how Burgewick, faced with the choice, chooses to be a monster rather than fail to survive.

The final, horrible scene where Burgewick kills Gib took me by surprise and yet made total sense at the same time. Of course Mortice would seek revenge on both of them, and of course he knew what would hurt his brother the most.

The Old Madam had it right: it’s a night when they kill the “weak” parts of themselves. The parts that might have had any human kindness.

Con: It’s a story about a society of psychopaths, and it’s the tale of how a gentle youth is forced to become a psychopath too. It's not much fun reading about psychopaths.

Mortice is a cardboard villain, as is the whole society.

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