In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind by Sarah Pinsker

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter. Weather was gorgeous here (near 70 and sunny, whereas the day after was 40s, rainy and 30mph winds). We also hosted the family for Easter egg hunting and dinner, so my house was full and I was tired by the time everyone left. Needless to say, blog posts get a little neglected after such a day. But, here’s a short story review that you can go and read yourself if you’re interested. Enjoy!

Published: July 2013 in Strange Horizons (you can read it for free at the link provided)

Genre: science fiction (reality with aliens)

Length: 24 pages

Setting: some indeterminate northern city (it snows in the winter), recent past

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: We start the story in the household of an older couple, Millie and George. George has just had a stroke, and Millie reminisces about their life together. George was an architect with many dreams. Most of those dreams went into building a fantastical tree house for the children. George stopped dreaming in 1951. Millie never got the whole story, but it seems that aliens really did crash in Roswell and he was tapped to create an unbreakable prison for them. It devastated him and he relived that feeling with his stroke.

Final thoughts: A sweet story centered around a pretty standard trope – aliens really did land in Roswell. The twist to the story is George designed a blind spot into the prison (Millie noticed it on the original plans she found hidden in the kids’ treehouse) so perhaps the aliens were able to escape. I’m not sure I buy the fact that Millie was able to easily see the blind spot, but no one in the government would notice it and fix the problem while the prison was being built. Even so, it was a delightful little story about a couple growing old together told in flashbacks. I’m not used to seeing stories written from an elderly perspective. The author also had a gay grandson (and it’s not that a big deal was made of the character. He just happened to have a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend. He was also the one family member that typically was around the help Millie.)

Title comes from: Not an obvious one. I’m going to guess the joy was the family and relationship Millie and George built together. The abyss behind was the prison George had to build for the aliens that he never talked about.

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