Review of Human Strandings and the Role of the Xenobiologist by Thoraiya Dyer. The story was originally published in Clark’s world and is free online.
My review from 2014 of Human Strandings and the Role of the Xenobiologist by Thoraiya Dyer
Title: Human Strandings and the Role of the Xenobiologist
Author: Thoraiya Dyer
Genre: Science fiction, space
Content warning: Mention of rape
This is the part of my 100 Short Stories in 2014 challenge.
It has been some time since I updated. I have been reading a few novels and a lot of comics without updating. My energy seems to be poured into my work these days. But today I felt like listening to one of Clarkeworld’s stories. That always require that I am not too tired as their stories are always challenging. This one is no exception.
This review will have a few spoilers as it is impossible to talk about it without talking about at least the themes of the story.
Kelly has been stranded on an alien world for 10 years, all alone. When she returns to her own world their society is moving more and more into virtual space. The meat space is harsh, cold and with space resources. In the virtual world anyone can master any physical skill. Kelly feels that the virtual world is unreal. That is pretty much what the story is about. Her society is consumed by the virtual world. They no long have meat children. They no longer live their lives in the real world. That is a scary scenario. At least it is for Kelly who is a dancer. Whose identity is tied up in the mastery of a physical skill.
The way the story thinks about virtual vs. real world life, is the aliens in the story is really interesting. I will not spoil that part, however I will very much recommend the podcast version of the story. It is definitely worth listening to.
I don’t quite know what to think about all the references to rape in the story. It seemed like society was using the thread of rape to keep women out of the meat spaces. Out in the real world they could not guarantee their safety.
Give it a listen
Stats: Human Strandings and the Role of the Xenobiologist
Published: March 1st 2014 by Clarkesworld
Read: March 28 to April 03, 2014
Length: 5342 words, short story
Format: Free online fiction
The author: Female, white, Australia
The protagonist: Kelly, female, dancer, child and young adult, mental issues, able-bodied.
This review was originally posted: April 3, 2014. Updated and edited July 2, 2023