Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son

Short Story by Tom Crosshill
Text and Audio published free, Lightspeed April 2011
Reading by Stefan Rudniki

A little boy in Russia, and his dog, are taken to be experimented on, to test the Quantum Mind hypothesis, and to see if a young enough child can learn to intuit quantum events, the better to operate some sort of quantum engine the Russians have invented.

The entire story is told by the child protagonist in letters to his mother, and the writing reminds me immediately of the earlier-this-year Lightspeed story, Postings From an Amorous Tomorrow. Here, as there, I'm not turned off by presumed manipulations of using a child protagonist in an unhappy story, although the cutesy elements of the writing sometimes intrude on the story more than I'd like, Zhenya has a unique point of view, which shifts through the narrative and focuses on things like his pet dog, rather than the scientific details. This is good.

There are some horror elements to this story, and I imagine it would be out-and-out horror if told from, say, the mother's point of view. But mostly it's about a poor, mistreated kid who begins to understand parallel universes and quantum probability.

It's a good read, but I recommend the Audio Recording, downloadable and streamable at the Lightspeed page. Rudniki does an excellent job with the misspellings and the Russian accent, and the whole story honestly seems better with his performance. If you have the choice, download the audio.

3.5 big fluffy gnome hats out of 5.

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