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Thursday, December 5, 2013

“Eye for Eye” by Orson Scott Card

First appeared in Asimov’s and won a Hugo.  Also up for Asimov's and Locus Poll Awards.  Reprinted by Isaac Asimov.

What feels like a contemporary fantasy gradually becomes SF.  Mick Winger is being interviewed by what sounds like the authorities, what kind of authorities (their allegiances) becomes murky for a while.  Mick tells his story of growing up in an orphanage and giving people cancer he doesn’t mean to kill--some he loves, some he didn’t feel deserved to die for what they did.

At seventeen he’s working for Mr. Kaiser who accepts him as he is, but he runs into a girl in Roanoke who knows what he is and his abilities.  He’s a little attracted to her but he has to go home to Eden (in the Carolinas, but likely intended to say you can’t go back to your Eden), but then he finds they’re looking for him and will pull him to them, so he tries to go in the opposite direction.  He hitches with a guy traveling to D.C. but when Mick falls asleep, the guy drops him off in Eden.

There he meets his blood relatives who let him go to an orphanage because he was so powerful and could have killed for not feeding him on time.  In the colony of his people, the kids go unwashed for the same reason.  They have an inbreeding program to enhance abilities, but Mick doesn’t want to take part, so they try to kill him.  While he’s on the lamb, he learns a little more about the girl from Roanoke and her people.  They’re facing off for war.

Interesting meditation on the Biblical concept of “eye for eye” so often used/implied in narratives, often unquestioned.  Here, it's questioned.

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