REVIEW: “While it’s Still Beating” by Emma Grygotis

Review of Emma Grygotis, “While it’s Still Beating”, Luna Station Quarterly 32 (2017): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

It’s hard to know whether to describe this story as SF or dystopian, though the unhappy future presented in it makes me lean towards the latter. Sometimes, future-oriented SF can just be so damn depressing.

Reading this, it feels like the tenses and temporal points are not mapped out correctly. There is a lot of past perfect, and a lot of present, and the “once, years ago, Alice could read Lenore’s moods by her eyes” – shouldn’t that really be “once, years ago, Alice had been able to…”? Because surely we are not talking about a single moment in time but rather an extended period. These shifts in tenses and the oblique way with which Grygotis approaches her story combine to make many aspects of the story unclear and uncertain. Both Lenore and Alice know why their insurance premiums are too high, but unfortunately, by the end of the story, I don’t, and the power that the ending might have had is lost on me.

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