Sunday Short: Polenth Blake's Never the Same

Sunday, October 12, 2014
This week's short is from Strange Horizon -- Polenth Blake's Never the Same.

Martin Pasco, Strange Horizons
In this story, you get snippets of a building world-wide mystery with a dose sibling rivalry from the perspective of an unnamed psychopath. In fact, he/she is the world's only known psychopath, but it is a world is not our own. A group of scientists is trying to terraform this world unsuccessfully, and the narrator's sister is running for president of the world, while the narrator suspects that their brother is doing nefarious things to jeopardize the world's progress (most of which get blamed on the narrator).

First off, I'll admit that this story was not the easiest for me to get through. I am not entirely sure why, but I think it might have been the combined result of shifting time-frame, no character names, and weird gender conventions -- some of which I realize was probably the result of the unreliable narrator.

I did find the world Blake created here interesting, with the central mystery of why the terraforming wasn't succeeding in addition to the growing sibling tension alluring enough to push through to the finish. The narrator had some great lines about what it truly means to be a psychopath, too.

Overall, I'd recommend this short story to someone who likes mind twisty sci-fi and is willing to put in the effort to read. I was ultmately satisfied with the ending
, but I'll admit it took me reading this story a few times to understand it (and I think that may have been a few too many times).

Rating: 3/5

Favorite line:
...others liked to suggest I wasn't truly human. That made us even. But that wasn't the main point. Everyone is an object, including me. The idea of self is a delusion to keep fear at bay. I don't feel fear, so I don't need the delusion. 
What's important is objects can be unique. They need care and they can be hard to replace. When I care about an object, I'll look after it. When I don't, I'm indifferent to it. People murder because they care too much, not because they don't.

Next Sunday's short will be Ruthanna Emrys' The Litany of Earth, published via I posed the question in the Sword and Laser goodreads group a few weeks ago for everyone's favorite short stories this year, and this one was definitely a favorite of many -- so I am excited to read it! Per "The Litany of Earth is a dark fantasy story inspired by the Lovecraft mythos." What better way to start the Horror October fortnight than Lovecraft, right? I hope you will read along! 

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