Thursday, March 17, 2011

Perfect Lies

Short Story by Gwendolyn Clare
Text and Audio free from Clarkesworld

Nora was born with the inability for facial expressions. She doesn't show emotion or even microexpressions, but has learned to created expressions artificially, only when she wants to. This makes her a perfect liar. On top of that, she's naturally adept at reading faces, and so the U.N. recruited her as a diplomat.

She's the only one able to negotiate with the Mask People, an alien species with technology far beyond humans, who want to trade tech for mining rights in the asteroid belt. But her superiors are planning to betray the Mask People, who come with honest intentions, and are sort of doing us a favor. As the only one who can lie to them, Nora has to decide if she really should.

On top of this, there are terrorist threats against the trade agreement, drama with bodyguards, and Nora's unique perspective of being treated by humans as having no emotions just because she doesn't express them. Her parents thought she was going to be a serial killer, and her colleagues call her a robot, and so she can't do much besides hold the world at a distance and try not to let them hurt her.

I love the narrative voice, the aliens are interesting, it's a good, thoughtful-yet-exciting story. But aside from the specifics, the plot seems overly familiar. I'd certainly be interested in seeing more of this character, though.

3.5 bold-faced lies out of 5.

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