Maureen McHugh. Useless Things. (Eclipse 3)

A detailed look at the impact of near-future climate and economic downturn on the individual. New Mexico is suffering drought, the economy is weak, and for those who cannot afford to move to where the water and the employment is, ekeing out a living is increasingly a challenge. A woman is managing to get by in her small property, growing some food and selling the lifelike dolls she sculpts on eBay. There’s still the basic infrastructure – internet, mobile phones, law and order – so, rather than being a totally fucked-up Mad Max future, it’s a scarily real one, a death by a thousand cuts. Itinerant workers pass by, heading north.

There’s something strange going on with one of her customers, who has ordered for the third time in as many years the same lifelike doll based on a baby picture they have supplied. And when her house is burgled, it’s time for reviewing the situation – leading to buying a handgun, and (bizarrely) turning a hand to sculpting dildoes. There’s a subtle interplay of relationships, a contrast between the haves and havenots, and the choices people have to make in this new world order.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *