Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Resurrection, by Ren Qing

Galaxy Awards I: Chinese Science Fiction Anthology, December 2022

The cover shown is of the anthology that Ren Qing's story, a 2023 Hugo Short Story Finalist, is published. It's available on Amazon.

A woman has just received the corpse of her soldier son's body, and the notification of his death. Except, the corpse isn't really a corpse. It's an animated synthetic body, containing the partial, damaged, memory of her son. There was apparently brain damage when he was killed, so the memory transferred to the chip that now resides inside the "corpse" is incomplete and slow to activate.

But the woman recognizes her son, and tends and cares for him over the next days, as the memory strengthens and he becomes, if not the quite the son she remembers, more functional, and supportive of his mother as she is of him.

Unfortunately, he also becomes more alarming, and more resented, by their villager neighbors. The woman is not the only person who has lost a son in the terrible war; why is she the only one who has gotten hers back, even partially? And what is he really? A monster? A demon? A threat to the whole village? That last fear comes from the "corpse" looking at a man doing something and warning him against an accident, an accident the man subsequently has.

The villagers grow hostile and dangerous. A technician from the government comes to tell the woman the "corpse" is only with her temporarily.

The "corpse" is very strong. Abnormally strong. And he doesn't want to leave his mother.

This isn't guaranteed to end well.

The characters are interesting, and the village feels like a plausible rural village. The developments get increasingly interesting. This is a solid, enjoyable story, if not quite up to the level of some of the others.

I received this story as part of the 2023 Hugo Voters Packet.

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