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194 pages, Kindle Edition
First published January 1, 2020
As a result of the contentious debate about her story and the personal attacks made against her, Fall entered a psychiatric hospital because of suicidal ideation, and withdrew other works with similar themes in the process of publication. Being still early in the process of transition, she also decided to abandon that process, telling a journalist, "If other people want to put markings on my gender-sphere and decide what I am, fine, let them. It's not worth fighting". She said that she was particularly struck by comments that she must be a man because "no woman would ever write in the way she did", which she said increased her gender dysphoria. (Wikipedia, if you hadn't guessed!)The irony is that the author is herself trans, but that was not known to those who attacked her as she said she wasn't out yet.
“It all started with the solar flare.”I loved this story, plain and simple. It does what it says on the tin — it tells us a story of a brand-new AI that woke up and realized that its life purpose was to look at the sun. It’s an AI on the solar off large monitoring station, after all.
“You devote your lives to pondering what purpose you have in the universe, but I knew from the start: the meaning of my life was to look at the sun.”
“I have spent too much time on a simple thought:
You gave me my self. Thank you.”
“How did I ever believe that I knew you?”A scientist is on a journey to track down an old friend - the one who back in childhood provided a much-needed kindred spirit to a nerdy outcast girl - interspersed with flashbacks showing the beginning and the heyday of friendship, and eventually a string of quite disturbing revelations.
When I check my e-mail one last time before I go to bed, I have an e-mail from a mysterious address that says, “Just like the story, sometimes sacrifice is required, Cecily, if everyone else is to survive.”
“Because that is what you do when your friend is a monster. Truly a monster—not a part-time monster like a werewolf who can be contained with proper precautions, not a misunderstood monster like the Beast from the fairy tale, but a monster. You don’t defend them. You don’t deny it. You do what you have to do.”
“We are here to degrade and destroy strategic targets in the United States of America’s war against the Pear Mesa Budget Committee.”
“And if that is not enough to convince you that gender grows deep enough to thrive in war: when the war ended the Soviet women were punished. They went unmarried and unrespected. They were excluded from the victory parades. They had violated their gender to fight for the state and the state judged that violation worth punishment more than their heroism was worth reward.
Gender is stronger than war. It remains when all else flees.”
No one at the Guiyang airport speaks English.
My obsession deepened. Even after I forgot how I’d come to know it, the fact stayed with me: a broken link in my mind that said, the humans have a place where they can see the sun. Is it any surprise I found that irresistible? You devote your lives to pondering what purpose you have in the universe, but I knew from the start: the meaning of my life was to look at the sun. Not in the way you imagined, I know—but you taught me with human words, and spoke to me with human concepts, and I wanted to see.
2021 Hugo Award Finalists
The summer after my sophomore year of college, I had a research fellowship to work with a biochemistry professor there. I’d gone to a small, highly competitive, intensely nerdy college. It felt like I’d spent my whole life up to that point as a fish out of water, leaping from jar to cup to puddle in a desperate bid to stay alive, and suddenly I’d found my way to the ocean. To water, to other fish, to the place I’d always belonged but never had been able to find. That was college, for me.