Sunday Shorts—Each to Each, by Seanan McGuire

coverMy audiobook of Women Destroy Science Fiction opens with this powerful story, which doesn’t pull any punches: colonialism, classism, transphobia, sexism… all covered brilliantly and beautifully with world-building and character, and spun into one of the best sorts of science fiction out there: one that tells an amazing tale even as speaks to a few truths.

“Each to Each” visits a future where we’ve unlocked much more capability to adjust and alter the human body, and specifically doing so with undersea intentions. Project Amphitrite has led to women in the Navy becoming the perfect choice—in many senses, not all of them positive—to be modified in this way. “Mermaids” in the vernacular, they’re soldiers underwater scouting out resources for an ever more starved planet, a United States deciding the next place to colonize is the ocean itself.

The story stays in the voice and character of a woman very much half-way—her progression toward mermaid isn’t as advanced as many on board; she can still breathe air and speak and walk, though all are uncomfortable (or borderline torture). There’s more than a little nod to ‘The Little Mermaid’ in her, but there is no great love in the balance here—rather, there risk is about something much more important, which I won’t spoil, but I will say I freaking adored, right down to the closing moments of the story.

(I’ll also note the audiobook performer did a fantastic job.)

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