wrongtrainrighttime: (Default)
Wrong Train, Right Time ([personal profile] wrongtrainrighttime) wrote2017-01-28 03:20 pm

The Evaluators by N. K. Jemisin

Jemisin, N. K. "The Evaluators: To Trade With Aliens, You Must Adapt." WIRED Magazine, 2016.
https://www.wired.com/2016/12/nk-jemisin-the-evaluators/



Another of those ephemera stories that I so love, this time a short story. It's so good: that slow build of horror as the shape of what happened begins to sink it, everything implied and stitched together, nothing ever spelled out. Like a good piece of horror, it's what's not seen that the scariest.

And the form! Oh my gosh, the form. The details and flourishes that Jemisin includes in each section of the story are so good. I love, love, love the little implied technological details, the livestreaming, the suppressed recollections, the ephemera of the ephemera. The "Optimized by CogNet!" lines are a particularly good touch. No one really thinks about advertising as a world-building thing... And it creates this strangely claustrophobic air, where you were hyper-aware that everything surrounding this tragedy had been filtered through this soulless unknown corporation's compression algorithms. Where you are so, so, so aware that you're reading personal logs, but these logs have already been mediated, passively or actively, with neglect or a very pointed eye to concealment... Logs are annotated, reviewed and polished, before they're ever sent to someone else...

And, let's face it, it does that great sci-fi thing where it's just an extrapolation of modern tech. Sent from my Verizon 4G LTE Smartphone. You can't make this shit up because it already exists! And that extrapolation of technology is probably what makes "The Evaluators" feel so grounded, so real. Because you can see the ghost of our tech in the tech of Jemisin's world.

A truly excellent piece of sci-fi. Love it for the horror, love it for the form, love it for how effortless and masterful and powerful Jemisin's writing is. Absolutely fantastic.

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