Short Stories by Tina Gower

Title: Twelve Seconds

Published: Writers of the Future Volume 29

Genre: science fiction

Length: 23 pages

Setting: A future Chicago

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Howard works in Digital at the police department, cleaning up siphons from murders and questionable deaths in the hopes that a clear image in the last twelve seconds of someone’s life will provide some evidence for a conviction. His latest siphon is different – it’s shorter than 12 seconds, and there’s no halo at the end. Howard is driven by his autism to find a reason for the difference. He finds six other siphons that lack a halo, and the trail leads him to the doctors that created the siphon method in the first place. One of the doctors is trying to cure people with mental disorders, but instead his experimental methods are killing the patients.

Final thoughts: This was an excellent story. There’s a great little mystery to solve (why don’t these particular siphons have a halo? Siphons always have a halo) told from a unique perspective. Howard has found a job in which he can excel, even with the handicap of his autism. In fact, we see over the course of the story, that his “handicap” allows his to see patterns a neurotypical wouldn’t have noticed. Society has advanced to the point that there is technology to help someone fit into society with a mental disorder, but it doesn’t actually cure the disorders. Gower makes the case that those disorders add something to society.

Title comes from: A typical siphon of the last memory of a person’s life is 12 seconds long.

Title: Today I Am a Nobody

Published: Galaxy’s Edge Magazine: Issue 2, May 2013

Genre: fantasy

Length: 5 pages

Setting: probably somewhere on Earth in the Middle Ages or before

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: The narrator has never fit in with her tribe. A shaman gives her animal magic to transform her into her true self who will find somewhere to fit in. She now literally transforms into a new girl whenever she is threatened. The tanner in town is cute, but after the first day, the narrator can’t get him to be attracted to her. She tries to change back into Rose, but by the time she’s successful, the tanner has gotten old and is no longer interested. The narrator finally just walks down the river, satisfied with being nobody.

Final thoughts: This was another story about not fitting in, although the narrator takes a much more drastic step to try to fit in than Howard. She’s only satisfied when she finally does something for herself, instead of changing to be what someone else wants her to be. It was a fine enough story, but I enjoyed the first one much more.

Title comes from: A phrase the narrator uses as she’s waiting to become Rose again to be attractive to the tanner.

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