Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

‘Is That Hard Science, Or Are You Just Please To See Me?’ by Leslie What

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With a title like that I think you can guess both the level of wit on display and also the unadulterated shitness of the story. We are in Atwood territory here and not in a good way; ‘Is That Hard Science’ is a horribly jumbled satire beset with some truly awful choices about nomenclature.

Ginny Vuoto is just a normal teen girl who wants to do normal teen girl stuff. The only problem is that her mom is the inventor of cattle prod pants that act as a modern day chastity belt. These have sold millions of units worldwide and allowed her to finance the invention of the Smart Twat. Let us pause for a minute to admire this spectacularly ill-judged name. Its official name is the Sensory Motivational Assessment and Response Test but apparently everyone calls it the Smart Twat which is about as likely as the Government introducing Painball but without even the excuse of a lame pun.

Anyway, the Smart Twat is a chip designed to allow parents to spy on their kids and stop them having sex. It doesn’t make sense but then nothing in this clunking satire of the American abstinence movement does. We first meet Ginny as she is going out on a date. Despite the fact she is wearing pants like electrified oven gloves and that her mother is famous for this invention we are supposed to believe they would still instantly start dry humping. Unsurprisingly, the date ends (in electrocution) after five minutes. This is just lazy writer but What is also inept. Ginny tells us of her nervous date: “His freckles began to sweat – I never knew freckles could sweat”. The first half would be fine as a throw away remark and could work well with similar lines in terms of building a gently humourous tone but no, What has to repeat the line to point out her own joke despite the fact it isn’t actually a joke. Repeatedly What suggests through the structure of her sentences that she has delivered a punchline when she has done no such thing.

After the opening section it becomes clear that ‘Is That Hard Science’ has no real structure at all. We lurch around between disparate bits of story, swinging between different narrators, and stumbling chunks from imagined documents such as an extract from Ginny’s biography. This doesn’t extract doesn’t actually sound anything like the Ginny in the rest of the story and the imagined transcript from Jerry Springer is even more cloth-eared. There is no rhyme or reason to anything, with no preamble Ginny and her mom suddenly pitch up on an MTV reality show. Why? Apparently because What has a cheatsheet entitled ‘Lazy Cliches For First Time Satirists’.

Quality: *
Wit: *

Written by Martin

5 December 2009 at 10:52

Posted in sf, short stories

Tagged with ,

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