“I love you, Matt” doesn’t count as a powerful statement that holds true for all time and space. Except when Gus says it, apparently.
this tor shorty is getting a lot of reactionary frowns and cranky reviews because it won a hugo award for best short story back in 2014 and it’s not really sci-fi.
which is a perfectly legitimate complaint, but one that didn’t stop me from loving it because i didn’t even know about the “scandal” before i read it, and because i actually prefer things that are more genre-blendy than textbook genre. you wanna throw time travel into my detective story? sure, go ahead. you wanna ride a unicorn into my grit lit? yes, please. (no, really – yes, please. can someone get daniel woodrell on the phone about this?)
i choose my tor shorts pretty blindly – usually by picture or author, and i rarely read the synopsis before i dive in. free books = zero buyer’s remorse, and there are plenty of tor shorts i’ve read a couple of paragraphs of before abandoning because i realized they were tied to a series i hadn’t read, or they were too too boring or – yeah, they were too sci-fi.
step off, brad – i know what you’re gonna say and i’m not having it right now!
so, no – i expect there were probably stories more representative of the sci-fi genre that “should” have won the award that year and it’s possible that because the litworld is so concerned about inclusion these days, there were some diversity itches needing to be scratched that pushed this one in over some with more sci in their fi.
but me, i loved it.
i loved the concept – that one day and for no discernible reason at all, speaking a lie aloud causes water to fall down on the individual. water falling from nooooooowhere.
or the related, and much more fun
i loved that the amount of water and its duration was contingent upon the kind of lie told, and the way that speech could be manipulated to avoid a technical lie while still being evasive.
and i love how this situation complicates a man’s coming out to his very traditional chinese parents despite his being in a committed relationship with an excellent man who is everything a parent could want their child’s future spouse to be. apart from the genitals, i guess.
it’s a wonderful story and i loved it and it is absolutely not science fiction. it’s just … lovely.
i think this would be a really great concept to expand into a full-length novel or even better – a short story collection, which could explore different applications of the idea – in advertising, in courtroom situations, in job interviews or first dates. there’s so much potential for humor, even though this particular story was more on the romantic and touching side of things, although it is pretty funny in parts:
When I was eight, she convinced me that she was psychic, then foretold exactly how horrible my life would be if I didn’t do exactly as she said. It’s embarrassing how many years she got away with it. If the water had been falling back then, she’d have flooded the house.
so, more of this idea, please! i need to know more about all the loopholes and the gradations of lie vs. paradox v. evasion vs. intentional absurdity. what would happen to actors? or undercover detectives? or santa claus??
this idea makes my head spin in the best possible way!
Uttering “this sentence is false” or some other paradox leaves you with such a sense of angst, so filled with the sense of an impending doom, that most people don’t last five seconds before blurting something unequivocal. So, of course, holding out for as long as possible has become the latest craze among drunk frat boys and hard men who insist on root canals without an anesthetic. Psychologists are finding the longer you wait, the more unequivocal you need to be to ever find solace.
but even if i never read more about the spiderwebbing journey this concept could travel, this story was enough to satisfy me for what it was, which is just a love story, but it’s a love story that’s sweet without being cloying, with a couple you wanna befriend and have over for dinner, and some of the themes are thoughtful and relatable even for straight folk.
but no laser guns.
read it for yourself here: