Book Review,  Science Fiction,  Short Stories

Deriving Life

Deriving LifeDeriving Life by Elizabeth Bear
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

During a social media conversation, I asked author Elizabeth Bear if she had ever written a story about cancer. She referred me to this story, saying (I’m paraphrasing here) that it wasn’t exactly about cancer, but it wasn’t not about it either.

I waited quite a while to read it. My life – like nearly everyone’s – exists in the midst of a pandemic, frequent deaths of loved ones, close family illness, and personal health challenges. I know the author has the knack of zeroing in on a topic in a way that can exact a toll on the reader. (That was a compliment).

Last night I finally read it. I immediately loved the use of non-specific gender pronouns, and character names that aren’t gender specific. At no point are you sure of anyone’s gender, and that’s fantastic, because you don’t need to know.

Just like in real life, there were lighter moments (a three way conversation involving texting amused me greatly), and darker moments (oh, so many, so exquisitely worked through). Difficult decisions were made, regrets were abundant, needs were expressed, frustrations were normal.

It’s a story that could never happen, and also plays out every day all over our world. I’m satisfied with my decision to finally read it.

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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