Review: What You Call

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We are now more than half way through the FUTURES series and Radix Media refuses to let up with the emotional gut punches with each of these installments. WHAT YOU CALL by germ lynn wrecked me.

It’s 2061 and the government launches what is believed to be a benevolent program to create and give support robots to the sick and vulnerable. It is pitched as “showing compassion.” Well, that evaporates when the program, without warning, is ended and the robots are snatched back to be reconfigured and weaponized for whatever conflict is being waged next. This leaves the support units no choice, but to flee with their dependents for self-preservation. We follow one such unit as it looks for their dependent, separated in a raid. The unit begins to question if they can make a life without the person they were programmed to care for.

Sometimes stories can be considered spirals with each new twist or turn they take. Lynn’s story is no exception to that, except that with each new twist and turn, the story deepens and expands. They don’t hold your hand with the narrative and the context of our robot narrator and it’s dependent, Moss, is given to the reader in crumbs. It is short prose writing at its best and lynn excels in painting rich descriptions with only a few lines.

Yet, despite such overt description, I found numerous lines that cut directly into your heart as you read. These pangs of loneliness, the feelings of futility, and the weight of loss bear down as each page flips by. A story of only 17 pages, it packs maybe the highest emotional punch, especially by the end, at least for myself it does. The themes of identity, artificial intelligence, and caring for one another are poignant for our current times. We need a story like this, even one that could offer a shred of hope.

Without spoiling it, I can say that if you read nothing else from the FUTURES series, let this be the one you pick up. It does so much with so little. Lynn proves that they are a writer to watch.

Oh, and I cannot forget that this is the first of the FUTURES series that includes art from an artist who is not the writer. Alma Shoaf provides some beautiful drawings that are interspersed through this story, and are truly lovely. She was featured on Radix Media’s blog where she talks about her process/interest in the FUTURES project.

You can pick it up here.

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