The Joy in Wounding, published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is a fantasy piece by Charlotte Ashley. It’s a continuation of some characters from a prior short story published in F&SF.
Despite the fact I’d read that last story, I’m still grappling with the type of world this is. The main character is a witch, and so are her sisters, but then she has like some wind that floats around her all the time and can talk (?). It feels very Murakami in some ways, yet then magical things are happening that make the main character fly around leagues and leagues–with no real point of reference.
If I hadn’t read the last story in this series I’d have been even more confused than I am, and not only with the world. Some of the character’s actions seem unwarranted and unearned as if they act in order to create plot, rather than in their truer nature. Sometimes there are those pieces in magazines that I just can’t understand how they fit into what is publishable and marketable, and sadly this is one of those. It’s a harsh assessment, but this reader had an exceedingly difficult time not putting down the issue altogether.
Tender Loving Plastics is a story about the foster care system. It’s a futuristic foster care system in which children who are not taken by a real family are raised by a robot mother.
The story starts when Issa is a baby. At first, we aren’t sure if she has a real parent or a robot for a parent. It is slowly revealed. No matter how human this robot mom is, it’s clear its not quite human.
Issa grows up with an older brother. For a while he is known as Good Tevor, but after an incident at school, then at home, he is known as Bad Trevor. Readers finally get a sense of what it measn that Issa is raised by a robot later in the story when a friend at school comes home with her and sees her mom and says, “Oh! You have a robot?”
When Issa tells the girl that this is her mom, the girl gets very strange and leaves without a word.
The story ends when Issa is in her 20s and she returns home to speak to the robot that she had been raised by. There are certain aspects of social life she has been deprived of–or that is, she is insuficiantly trained in understanding through what others would call “normal” parenting.
This piece is about how technology effects us as we grow up. It isn’t a secret that those who have grown up with ubiquitous social media and mobile devices suffer from more social anxiety than people who don’t. Perhaps this is due to social media specifically, or maybe it’s because they are just better at navigating a digital world compared to an analog one. Ironically, the more connected we are the more alone we feel, and while this story doesn’t quite get at this, it certainly points to the issues that future generations will face as technologies become more and more ubiquitous.