This was an EscapePod episode that I loved so much, I decided to write it up.
Published: July, 2019 on EscapePod (you can either listen to or read the story at that link)
Genre: science fiction
Setting: Acceptance, a human colony on an exoplanet, future
Summary: Short version: A neurotypical immigrant from Earth doesn’t adjust well to life on Acceptance
Long version: Our narrator, Ada, a 16-year old who lives on Acceptance, is excited to meet the new immigrants from Earth. She has to work to fit in on Acceptance, since she’s an NT (neurotypical) surrounded by mostly non-NTs. She’s delighted by the eye contact and casual contact Leon provides. Leon is confused by the iconography many people on Acceptance use for communication, and annoyed by all the rules and schedules. Ada feels needed and delights in the help she can provide to Leon. But, Leon takes it too far. He refuses to follow the recommendations for therapy or to get a job Acceptance recognizes as work. He wants to be a diplomat, but people on Acceptance feel there is no need for one. Everyone on his team gets downgraded to child status because they can’t follow the rules. Eventually, they head home. Leon asks Ada to come with them, but she wants to stay on Acceptance and help other NTs understand how to work within the system.
Final thoughts: I loved this story. I thought it was an excellent description of how many non-NTs must feel going through their day-to-day lives in an overwhelmingly NT world. Leon was not willing to make accommodations for the differences in Acceptance’s society compared to what he grew up with on Earth. I could understand him not wanting to point out deficiencies, like asking someone to change their instruction modality. That would be embarrassing on Earth. Not on Acceptance. You’re expected to ask for what you need, and not be greedy about your wants. People are very clear about what they do and do not like. There are room rules for anytime anyone gets together so everyone knows what other people do and do not enjoy. That might seem like it creates so many rules, but then it’s clear how you’re supposed to act. You don’t have to guess and get annoyed when someone doesn’t guess right. Leon and the others he brought with him were unable to adapt to the differences. Ada realized she could adapt to the differences, and enjoyed helping others to understand those differences. I found the ending very satisfying. Go and read it – I haven’t done justice to the story. I could go on about Ada’s mother, how Ada has to correct her metaphors, or how you’re considered an adult on Acceptance. Even better, listen to it. Because it’s mostly Ada’s thoughts, it works particularly well as an audio story.
Title comes from: Acceptance was the name of the colony planet. The spectrum refers to the neurological spectrum. People all along the spectrum function together on Acceptance in ways that don’t happen on Earth. It’s a bit of a Utopia that I’d love to see us work towards.