Short Stores 366:34 — “The Things I Miss the Most” by Nisi Shawl

coverThe sheer number of angles at which the authors are coming at disability and sci-fi in Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction is just slaying me. It is so good, everyone. So good. Nisi Shawl’s “The Things I Miss the Most” is an excellent example of this, about a young woman who grew up with seizures that pretty much derailed most aspects of her life throughout her childhood and young adulthood, until a new implant came into play that bridges the two hemispheres of her brain and stops the seizures from happening. There is a side-effect, however, and that side-effect is her friend, companion, and lover.

This other person is real to her in every way—touch and taste and scent and everything else—and since it’s a known side effect, everyone around her (including her mothers) also treats this “being” as a fact of life, rather than something to be scorned or ignored—right up until the implanted device has done its job and they can turn it off and let her now-balanced brain take over without help. Switching it off will make someone who has been a part of her life for years just… vanish.

That’s the point at which we hit the story and the levels and angles touched upon within this tale had me just leaning back in my chair. There’s so much here dealt with in that brilliant Sci-Fi way. I think of my own brain chemistry, and what it would mean if I were “fixed,” and what I would lose (or gain) in return. This story takes that impossible decision, and runs with it to fantastic result. I can’t wait to dive into New Suns, and see what Shawl has curated.

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