Sunday, September 8, 2019

Messages, by Sandra McDonald

★★★★★ Stunning

(Future Fantasy) Maddy’s aunt dies when she’s a little girl, but she leaves behind an app that lets people exchange texts with the dead, and her brother commercializes it. (8,279 words; Time: 27m)

"Messages," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 09-10|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.488 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: There are several story lines here. There’s Maddy the child’s experience of loss of her aunt and her surprise at the app she left Tommy, followed by details on her growing up. But there’s also adult Maddy who never recovered from the loss of her child. And then there’s the details of how the app changed the world, with people committing suicide in droves, plus the big revelation of what the app cost the people on the other side.

All of these threads are neatly twined together and come to a neat conclusion, which offers a few words of hope.

Dialog is natural, narration is transparent, the writing in general shines. The story is a pleasure to read from many perspectives.

Something amazing about the story is how efficiently it slips in bit of information. Like when Maddy observes that Lucy’s nickname for Tommy was “Tough Guy” and she admits that “Maybe he was tough a little, inside, because you don’t beat heroin if you’re weak.”

Con: If Lucy could invent this app, it stands to reason someone else could too. Knowing a thing can be done makes it a lot easier to do a second time. Tommy’s shutting the system down isn’t likely to make that much difference.

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