Short Stories 366:62 — “Abigail Dreams of Weather,” by Stu West

coverI can sometimes struggle with limited point of view when it’s from the perspective of characters who aren’t exposed to the larger story of what’s going on, but in this case, Stu West’s “Abigail Dreams of Weather,” from Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction, I found it really worked. We join a group of kids in a hospital who are very ill, and who are noticing the medical staff numbers dwindling. The adults all seem, well, busy. By the time they’re down to having no one but a janitor watching them (and he takes off to the bathroom and doesn’t come back), you know something is definitely not right in their space-station world, but not what, exactly.

The answer here is potentially told. That said, given the technology in play, I found it potentially suspect, too—it could very well be what they kids end up deciding it is, but my mind wondered if there was even more going on, and the kids being ill, the adults decided they were simply too frail to know. That their frailness is a major part of the plot in the sense that they decide getting out of the sick room, out of their endless “nothing ever changes” routine, and struggle their way to catch a glimpse of something different despite how much it might cost them only makes the idea stronger to my mind.

Kids. Always underestimated. And the ill? Even more so. Abigail’s arc—a girl who misses living on a planet and wants open spaces, any open spaces— might be the spark of the story, but the surrounding cast of other kids are given a heck of a lot of character for the brief space of the tale (and even a wee romance is tucked in there of sorts). I loved this little story all the more for ending it wondering if things were as they seemed, and being okay with not really having a way to find out.

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