Monday, January 24, 2011

My Father's Singularity

Short Story by Brenda Cooper
Text and Audio from Clarkesworld, read by Kate Baker.

Paul's father told him from childhood that he would see the Singularity, never die, and become the next step for humanity. Paul goes off to school, becomes successful, and comes back to realize his Alzheimer's-afflicted father no longer recognizes him.

A sad rumination on how we don't notice our own changes, or those that happen gradually enough. The singularity might be able to sneak up on us that way, but also might not be as big a concept as some would expect, or it might never come. Expectations for the future, or for your own children, aren't always met the way you think they will be.

Beyond that, this is also a story about how father and son talk past each other. Son feels rejected by his father's insistence not to be like him, and his later failure to recognize his own son. At the same time, the father's expectations aren't met, and yet his son still leaves him behind, without even realizing it. Neither understand each other, the future, or themselves. And then there is the less technological definition of singularity. What is it that we emotionally just can't see past? Expectations for the future, or fond memories of home and how things used to be. Both men have clouded judgment based on what they want to believe, rather than reality.

Heartbreaking, but also insightful. And blessedly short, where many stories run on too long with these sorts of themes. We just get enough of a glimpse of the future to get the point.
4.5 imagined singularities out of 5.

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