Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Day the World Turned Upside Down

This novella by Thomas Olde Heuvelt is one of the 2015 Hugo nominees. It's a cute little story where the title reveals everything you need to know about the heavy-handed metaphor for how the narrator feels after his girlfriend dumps him. And also, gravity reverses so that everything (except rivers and ponds) falls up off the surface of the earth and into space. But really, the narrator focuses mostly on how he feels so bad.

It's just not a very interesting story; I know that he can write a good story, because The Ink Readers of Doi Saket was delightful: charming, with an engaging voice and great characters and interesting things happening. This story does not have those features.

Because of the Puppy-storm around the 2015 Hugos, I considered the story in the light of Social Justice Warrior ideas. I might otherwise have let it slide, have written it off as not as good as The Ink Readers... and left it there. Instead, I thought about how this story focuses on the narrator's feelings, how he constantly expresses the totality of his love for his ex-girlfriend, but when he finally sees her, he describes her only in physical terms and thinks only of his outrage that she would have sex with someone else after dumping him. It's all about his hurt feelings and her body. We don't even get to learn many details about their relationship, so the reader is left to fill in details (how did they meet? what did they like doing together? how did they emotionally connect to each other? did they have good conversations?) around the one-sided authorial depiction of the ex-girlfriend as a body which has hurt this man.


This post's theme word is cicatrize, "to heal or become healed by forming a scar." The narrator needed to psychologically cicatrize and explore the new and fascinating world around him.

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