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Totaled by Kary English


by Kary English

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2015-05-14/100%: Not bad. Writing seemed a little off, like YA. Reminded me of the story How Many Times Have I Died? at Motherboard.com except that story was both much shorter and much, much better. ( )
  Awfki | May 19, 2015 |
This story is set in a future dystopia where people whose health care gets too expensive are declared "totaled" and treatment is withdrawn. Our protagonist is not one of the unfortunates who's totaled because she's poor - instead, she appears to have opted in to this system for financial benefits before being totaled in an accident. Her "donated" brain is returned to her old lab, and brain research collaboration with her old partner ensues. But she's running out of time as her brain decays.

This was decently done, and contrary to what I've heard, I don't think the political situation needs to be read as "Obamacare Death Panels." (It could as easily be "Tea Party YOYO Economics".) It could have gone somewhere slightly more interesting with the premise, though. I mean, yay brain research, but... ( )
  lavaturtle | Apr 27, 2015 |
The Hugo nominees were announced last Saturday, and [b:Totaled|24864779|Totaled|Kary English|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1423349996s/24864779.jpg|44512767]by [a:Kary English|6427054|Kary English|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] was among the nominees for Best Short Story. I try to read and review as many of the nominees as possible, and since a quick Google search led me to English's short story on Wattpad, Totaled became my first post-nominee announcement read (I've already read Ann Leckie's [b:Ancillary Sword|20706284|Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch, #2)|Ann Leckie|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1413464739s/20706284.jpg|40026175], but I'll review that at a later date).

In recent years, I've gained a taste for a well written short story. Done right, a good story gets in fast, cuts to the meat of a problem, and gets out even faster. What a short story might lack in character development and world building, it can more than make up in poignancy, punch, and speed.

Also, it's much easier to turn off the light and go to bed after a short story than it is after a chapter in a good novel.

That's a long way of saying that I liked what I found in Totaled, and I can't wait to look up what else Kary English has written.

A bit about the story, though not so much as to spoil it: Totaled opens with the main character dead. Told from a first person perspective, English makes good use of next generation technology, looping in just enough science fiction (but emphasizing the "fiction") to give the story a "day after tomorrow" feel, but never losing touch of the human side that makes for the emotional ride in a story. Cutting edge tech may be interesting, but it might as well be a clever piece of speculation in scientific digest without addressing its human impact. Totaled makes use of some interesting ideas about technology, but leans heavily on the emotional waves the technology causes on its characters.

While I haven't yet read the other nominees in the Short Story category, I enjoyed Totaled, and I hope the best for her and her story in the Hugo voting. ( )
  publiusdb | Apr 24, 2015 |
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