stumbled across Thoughts and Prayers by author Ken Liu in that wonderful The Years Best Science Fiction, presumably the year being 2019 (oddly, it’s not clear). Anyway, just giving you the name of the story means I’m giving you a knee-jerk reaction. You are either agreeing with what you think I’m going to say or deciding that I want to pry your gun from your cold dead hands.
Even though the latter might be a little true, no, this story goes deeper than that. Told in the interesting format from various characters involved, we learn that an older sister / daughter goes to a rock concert and is mown down in an event all too familiar with Americans. There is no “good man with a gun”, no “rapid, trained response”. No, the girl is dead and everyone else is left to deal with it.
And in dealing with it, we see the methods used. The father just wants to forget it. But the mother, wishing her daughter’s death to mean something, is contacted by a firm whose AI can form messages specific to each person, letting them know just who that dead girl was. But of course, this launches the troll attacks, everything from biting comments to memes to even pornography. The mother’s sister, who works for a firm that produced internet armor, comes to her assistance. And so the flame wars go on with the trolls trying to get around her defenses and she trying to make a point concerning gun violence.
Yes, at that’s why it was so interesting – the story starts with a simple premise yet moves into a different conflict all together. I really wanted to see where this would go, and the end was satisfying (as a story) yet depressing (as a truth).
Curious? Well, if you can cut around all the advertisements, you can read the entire thing HERE.
So yes, take off your preconceptions and have a look. It’s very sad and depressing and truthful. Dare you.