Frankly Tender

Thu 27 Apr 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Tender cover - click to view full sizeI really enjoyed Brit Mandelo’s use of the word “frank” in their Tor.com review of Sofia Samatar’s Tender: Stories. The word captures something about Sofia’s writing that I haven’t been able to describe. This book is something else:

“I was also impressed with both of the pieces original to this collection. . . . ‘Fallow’ is the second original piece, a novella, and is by far the longest in the collection. It’s also the best novella I’ve read in quite some time. . . . a heady mix of science and grim hard-scrabble religious life in a dystopic and closeknit society. . . . I’d strongly recommend giving the literary, clever, and productive art that Samatar has collected here a read. It’s as good as I’d hoped, and just as smart too.”

This week also saw the book appear on NPR woohoo!, where  Jason Heller reviewed it:

Tender‘s longest story is also a science fiction tale set in the future — and like ‘The Red Thread,’ it toys with the ambiguity between dystopia and utopia. Told from the perspective of a child named Agar Black Hat, who lives in an extraterrestrial colony after cataclysmic climate change and a universal draft have forced a sect of religious pacifists from Earth, the story is a feast of ideas. It’s reminiscent of vintage Ursula K. Le Guin in its combination of social science and hard sci-fi, even as it probes the nature of belonging and belief.
“The book’s beating heart, though, is its title story. ‘Tender’ starts out with a clever play on words — ‘tender’ is used as a noun, as in, one who tends — and employs some tricky unreliable narration and splintered points-of-view. But Samatar’s virtuoso flourishes of form serve a higher purpose: They couch a quietly devastating account of a woman who gave up her life as a career woman and mother to become a cyborg, one who, alone, tends to a radioactive waste facility which she may never leave. While Samatar slowly unspools her character’s reasons for leaving her former life — delivering a primer on the haunting philosophies and damaged psyches of the scientists who gave us nuclear power along the way — ‘Tender’ redefines the emotional power and literary heft that speculative fiction can convey. As does Tender as a whole.”

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