Sam J. Miller. When Your Child Strays from God. (Clarkesworld Magazine #106, July 2015)

clarkesworld106Available online here in versions that you can input into your brain via your eyes and your ears. How long before the technology is there for tablets and suppositories for alternative ways of ‘reading’ stories?

Miller has had a brace of stories pass through my eyeballs in recent months (click here for details) and he comes up trumps with this story in Clarkesworld Magazine.

The story features a most unlikeable protagonist, unless you are a member of an Evangelical Church like Bethesda Wilde is, and share the seething anger and hatred that is bubbling under her skin. Her husband is pastor of the Grace Abounding Evangelical Church, and she is a joint pillar of the community. Sadly, her once beautiful (and pliant) son) has gone through puberty and the awkward teenage years, and has progressed from being a little naughty at times, to having started taking the newfangled Spiderweb drugs and left home – to live with ‘That Whore Susan’. There are non so blind as those who will not see…

Beth is not going to take this lying down, and she heads off to Susan’s house, having taken the Spiderweb drug herself – and this new-fangled drug has the unique property of making users of the same batch share their hallucinations. And so she is off on a short car drive with some strange hallucinogenic companions.

The story clever reveals more about Beth and her background as it progresses, and as the story reaches it’s conclusion, the scales have fallen off Beth’s eyes, she has an understanding of what she has been and what she is, and has the inner strength to face the challenges ahead.

And I shall pop this story onto the ongoing shortlist for The Best SF Short Story Award 2015

21st Feb 2016 update : a Nebula Award nominee, a nomination with which I agree.

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