Sunday, October 13, 2019

Song Xiuyun, by A Que

[Clarkesworld]
★★★★☆ Heart-Warming and Sad at the Same Time.

(SF Adventure) An old woman travels to Beijing to find out what’s wrong with her son, and she relates her story to a taxi driver on the way home. (10,199 words; Time: 33m)


"," by (translated by Emily Jin, edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 157, published on .

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

Review: 2019.582 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: At its heart, this story is about the relationship between adult children and their parents in the modern age, when the parents often can’t even understand what their children do. Beyond that, it’s about how Song Xiuyun struggles to figure out what’s wrong with Li Chuan and what she might do to help him.

In parallel to that, Wu Huang gradually realizes how alienated she herself is from her mother—without the excuse of living far apart. She isn’t really a bad person, for all that she tried to gouge them on the price of transport. Once she heard enough of their story, she quietly decided to drive them to the bus station after all and not make them walk the two kilometers.

Of course Song Xiuyun only thinks she’s bringing her son home with her; Wu Huang sees “two shadows” under the young man’s collar—a power socket and a bar code, just like on the robot in the basement. There was no operation; it was just a ruse to fool the mom. Li Chuan has just switched to an improved model. Maybe it won’t matter, if she’s happy with him. But it sure does make Wu Huang reach out to her own mother. (I think there are other ways to interpret the ending—I’d be interested to see what other people think.)

Con: It’s a little hard to believe that mom never realized she was dealing with a remote-operated robot. It seemed obvious to me about half-way through. Also, if the little village doesn’t have a proper Internet connection yet, how is the robot going to work there?

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A Que Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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