Sunday Shorts: Tobias Buckell's Toy Planes & The Found Girl

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sci-Fi November continues! I'm excited to note that this week, I'll be posting an interview with sci-fi author Tobias Buckell! 

To start the week off right, this Sunday I am going to highlight two of his short stories - Nature's Toy Planes & Clarkesworld's The Found Girl (co-authored with David Klecha).
Toy Planes was published as part of Nature magazine's Futures series. In this story, we follow a Caribbean rocket pilot preparing for his first flight. The story deftly discusses racial identity, thoughts on what someone might owe their hometown, and questions of whether basic science research is worth it. And I loved it. 
My favorite part of the story was the sense of wonder in exploring the awesome that is space. Buckell conveys it beautifully in my favorite quote: 
We weren't even the first, but we were the first island.
The countdown finished, my stomach lurched, and I saw palm trees slide by the portholes to my right. I reached back and patted the package, the hammered-together toy, and smiled.
In The Found Girl, we learn about a world wherein technology has advanced to a point where humans can fully integrate their consciousness with machinery and one another. The adults that fully integrate into a community are said to have transcended, and humankind has reaped the benefits of advanced thinking/computing. The story is told from the perspective of a girl, Melissa, who has been left behind after her mother died. She lives in an orphanage run by a group of transcended called collectively The Street. 

This story was a little tough to get into at first, because it is told from the perspective of an unreliable narrator in the young girl Melissa. Her mother seems to have been pretty superstitious, and we read of Melissa's beliefs of demons such as Llorona roaming the streets outside the safe confines of The Street. I was actually delighted when I realized what was happening (explained slowly through Melissa's discussions with The Street), and I love when science fiction can truly delight me. My only disappointment is that the story felt rushed at times; the plot could have easily been fit into the novella or novel format. I wanted to hear more about Melissa's world.

Favorite line: 
Technology got faster. Better. And then technology started designing technology. Evolving. What used to take a lifetime took a decade, then years. And then last year, months. Weeks. Days.

People transcended. Became other things. Many other things. Some were still here. Some had left. Some were different. 
Some stayed the same. The Found Children had been left behind.
Ratings: 4/5 Toy Planes, 4.5/5 The Found Girl

Any thoughts on either of these short stories? Read anything lately that delighted you? Leave a comment below! And don't forget to check back later this week for the interview with Tobias Buckell. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright © 2014 Exploring Worlds
Template by These Paper Hearts