Back to Queers Destroy Science Fiction again this week, and I skipped a story where the narration made it almost impossible to follow (no fault to the author there), and I’m back with “Tip of the Tongue” by Felicia Davin.
As dystopias go, this one struck me down to the bone. It takes place in a city (country?) where, overnight, through the release of nanotech, most of the citizens have their literacy erased from their brains. The following morning, all the books and writing tools (digital or otherwise) are stripped from them, and life begins again without the written word of any kind.
There are two points to this story that really struck me. One was how this awful state began by first taking any representational art away from its people (statues, say, or paintings) as dishonest representation, and how it seemed like there wasn’t enough resistance to that, so when the same is done to the written word, it’s too late.
The second point was how resistance often starts at that point: the “we were too late,” point, and there’s a casual—and darkly funny—line tossed by a character about how they’ll get some things sorted out once they’ve rebuilt society from the ground up that I appreciated.
Characterization was so solid, and like with the Chu story, the queerness is folded into the tale in an effortless way. The avenue of hope in this particular setting—a children’s book once treasured by the main character—was just shy of being enough for me. I wanted just a wee bit more from the final moments (which end within a hair’s breadth of confirming real hope), but I loved getting there, and it’s just my usual mood these days for wanting clearly hopeful endings rather than kernels of potential.