Saturday, January 22, 2011


Short Story by Genevieve Valentine
Read for Escape Pod by Mur Lafferty

Sarah and Kay are two (teenage?) girls sparing over a boy, Fortuni. They are all students in a New York City where the world faces a massive water shortage. All water is rationed harshly according to social status, as desalination from the oceans appears to be the only source of water. Houseplants are illegal, to the point that Sarah worries about jail time for bringing one home from a trash can. The U.S. seems even closer to a police state, but the wealthy are allowed to ignore most of the rules.

What seems like a rather plotless teen romance gets more exciting when it seems Fortuni is part of a group of outlaws/"terrorists" intent on bringing back natural rain and the water cycle. The central conflict of the story, beyond jealousy between the two girls, is Sarah's internal conflict as to how far she'll let herself go in Fortuni's direction, and how she'll change her own goals and take more risks to make his dreams of rain come true. Enthusiasm/rebellion are infectious, and that is what I take to be the point of this slice-of-waterless-dystopian life story.

Advection is the transport of substances/particulates/energy/other conserved properties by a fluid via the fluid's bulk motion. Wikipedia says advection in meteorology is the transport of some property of the atmosphere or ocean, such as heat, humidity or salinity; it is important in cloud formation and precipitation. As the title of the story, it literally stands for the changes in climate leading to no natural rain and a water shortage, as well as the meteorology classes Sarah takes. Metaphorically, I read it as the transference of passion/hope/rebellion, from Fortuni to Sarah.

By the end of the story, she is dreaming of his dream to create rain, gathering illegal condensation on her bowl under the bed, and while she hopes he is alive, I suspect her life and career aspirations have shifted to keep his memory and hopes alive, if nothing else. She expands beyond her non-ambition, takes more classes, and has goals for her life she never had before meeting Fortuni.

I still love Mur Lafferty's voice, but her reading of this story is one of the worst I've heard from her. She captures emotion well, and is as dynamic a reader as always, but she stumbles over words many times, and has awkward pauses and loud background noises. I get the impression this was rushed, and she had to do the whole story in one take.

4 thirsty thirsty jade plants out of 5.

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