Friday, July 2, 2010

2010 Hugo nominee, short story: "Non-Zero Probabilities" by N.K. Jemisin (Clarkesworld 9/09)"

Adele lives in a New York City that, through some unexplained event or intervention, has become a center of improbable events. For some people, this means the spontaneous remission of their cancer, or a big lottery win. For others, this means horrible accidents and deadly duck attacks. People react by turning to religion or superstition.

In this short story, we get a pretty thorough exploration of Adele’s troubled faith and her uncertainness in relationships. In fact, these uncertainties seem to be the point. Adele has a lot of the same questions about love and life that we all have, but an odd and original speculative fiction setting brings these issues into stark relief.

I really enjoyed this story, but I do have my usual short fiction complaint: I wanted more. There are so many great possibilities with this setting, that I wanted to see more bizarre events and learn more about Adele, a very relatable character, and her background.

This is a well-written, intriguing story with a great character. I’d like to see more from Jemisin, and I might seek some out. Available from Clarkesworld, including an audio version.

Grade: A-

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