“Men of Unborrowed Vision,” by Jeremiah Tolbert
Appeared in issue 56 of Lightspeed Magazine, January 2015
A troublingly believable tale of the near future.
I felt like Mara’s attitude towards Adam ought to be more strongly tinged with racial awareness, beyond just that aside about “spoiled, rich white boys[.]” But as a white writer, I probably overthink things like that.
I also felt like Adam’s puppyish persistence ought to put Mara off more than it does. Maybe she doesn’t have much experience getting befriended and pestered this way? She’s been immersed in the cause for a long time. Still, she should have more friends.
Mara’s choices at the end seem pretty terrible to me. She refuses to be treated for the disease, even though her getting treated could only benefit her OHL friends. Maybe on some subconscious level she’s trying to push Adam to take action, but that’s a gamble, especially since he’s a passive dork most of the time. Then she immediately posts on the OHL forum, which (let’s face it) is probably being monitored. I’m not saying I would have a better plan, but I wish Mara did, especially since the story ends without revealing the consequences of her actions.
I’m never very satisfied with stories whose structure is so slice-of-life. This piece is like a TV episode; you can tell there’s a lot more to come, so even when it ends on an exciting note, you can feel that it’s incomplete. I do look forward to more glimpses of Mara’s world, though.