Monday, March 21, 2011


Short Story by Nancy Fulda
Originally Published in Asimov's March 2011

Hannah has a new mental condition called "temporal autism". The story is told from her unique point of view, about her parents trying to decide whether they should get her "cured" and doomed to a life of mediocrity, or leave her alone, with a chance of greatness, and a greater chance of never fitting in. The frustrating thing is that she can't communicate with her parents. They don't understand her, even worse than adults usually misunderstand the next generation.

Hannah thinks in terms of evolution, geologic time scales, chaos and fractals. Evolution, of humans, beautiful venus flytraps that survive by getting people to toss them food, and mosquitos all are used as interesting metaphors here. So is Hannah's ballet talent, slow movement of glass over centuries, and the elderly looking down on kids for being different. Hannah worries that she may be an evolutionary dead end, but maybe the first people to develop speech felt the same way, they communicated differently, so were thought of as not fitting in.

Lots of brilliant metaphor, and several distinct lines of thought worth considering, regarding change and what society will accept. Why should we expect future generations to be the same as past ones? Hannah and the author both come to the conclusion I would, regarding her treatment, but it is very well written, well described, and well thought out and the beautiful/sad thing is that I'm not sure Hannah's parents will even be able to understand her as she tries to express her wishes. This quote sums things up rather well:
I want the flytrap to survive, but I can tell from the sickly color of its leaves that this is unlikely. I wonder, if the plant had been offered the certainty of mediocrity rather than the chance of greatness, would it have accepted?
4.5 mutant flytraps out of 5 do not want new shoes.

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