Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Power to Yield, by Bogi Takács


(Psionic Horror) The māwalēni protect the colony of Eren, but to unlock their psychic powers, they have to get implants and endure a torture program run by a self-admitted sadist. (20,135 words; Time: 1h:07m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 166, published on .

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

Review: 2020.362 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story gets off to a good start. Oyārun needs to learn about key figures in her planetoid’s independence, which happened recently enough that some are still alive. Their rebellion was complex, with various colorful figures involved, and the psionic power that keeps them free (at such high cost) is mysterious and interesting as well.

The core of the story (as suggested in the title) is that because accessing The System is so painful, the māwalēni have to undergo a program of deliberate torture to desensitize them to pain enough that they can do it. Much like a visit to the dentist, this works best when people relax and accept the pain rather that trying to fight it.

Both Aramīn and Oyārun are “aromantic and asexual,” so their relationship (if you can call it that) is purely about S&M with no sexual distraction.

Con: The biggest problem with this story is that it’s not really a science-fiction story; Oyārun pays a heavy price for her powers, and yet we never find out what they’re actually good for. All of the SF trappings are just window dressing which is quickly discarded once we get to the real story, which is an S&M fantasy. The entire point of it is that Oyārun is a masochist who ultimately finds pleasure in submission to pain. At the end of the story, I felt cheated.

The idea that Aramīn being a sadist makes him uniquely qualified to lead a program that has to inflict pain makes zero sense. Ask yourself if you’d want your dentist to be a sadist. If something like this were real, it would be treated like medical pain, not erotic pain, and there would probably be meds to minimize the pain. They definitely wouldn’t fetishize it.

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Bogi Takács Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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