Yup, I’m still reviewing July’s issue of eFicition magazine.
This week, I take a look at Unaccomplished by Alissa Berger
A richly detailed dystopia, Unaccomplished could just as easily have been in Nebula Rift, the science fiction imprint by the same folks as eFiction. It shows a world where worth of humans is decided by talent and accomplishment, and those who fall short are harvested. Their limbs or organs are collected, or they get ground up for food. Yeah, pleasant stuff.
The narrative takes its time in this piece, building a horrific concentration camp in a world obsessed only with the results people produce. The supremely talented, the prodigies, and olympic superstars are granted free passes, while everyone else must prove themselves or get chopped up.
Grim, gritty, yet believable – by mining a common worry (“Can anyone see how good I am?”), the story gives a world similar to other dark dystopias, yet different in focus. Its a deep, immersive narrative that quickly suspends disbelief.
It’s a little long in some places. While I appreciate the way the narrative takes time to set up the inevitable ending, there were some missed chances to chop down the word count.
The main character, Wrander, facing death by dismemberment, never seems too broken up about it. There’s a serious lack of emotion – the tone of voice is a bit flat. Now, I realize this might be intentional as a mood for the piece, but I felt that Wrander didn’t fight, didn’t try to take a stand. I wanted to feel sorry for him, or to root for him, but as soon as he’s taken in to the concentration camp, he seems to just … accept it. I wanted stronger reactions from him, or some last-ditch attempt to show everybody that he is indeed talented, that he is accomplished.
In a word, Worldbuilding. The big strength of this story is in building its world – the environment and reality are established quickly and expertly. The dystopia takes common fears and the modern obsession with celebrity and talent-searching to a horrifying yet believable extreme. The characters accept this reality fully, allowing the reader to accept it.
This story can help me learn how to craft a stronger world that readers will accept and appreciate.