“…dozens of iChaperones lit up in angry technicolor. They swarmed down from the ceiling to hover around the heads of their respective underage protectees, screens flashing the cutesy drink icon that alerted them to the presence of alcohol.”
Monday’s installment of Daily Science Fiction, “iChaperone” by Kat Otis, takes helicopter parenting and personal electronics to their logical point of union. 90% of the story is right there in the title, and the remaining 10% puts a pleasant button on it. At just under 800 words, it’s not a sentence longer than it needs to be.
“When she asked her mother why the word of God must be written in books, why it could not be known instantly and forever by everyone, her mother said that faith was like a human and an alien meeting for the first time. Without mutual cultural reference they stare into each other’s eyes and do not fall in love.”
Escape Pod’s recent episode 451 featured the wistful “the Aliens Made of Glass” by Helena Bell. The story shows us a future where things have gotten predictably worse: famine and disaster, the North Carolina-Virginia border closed and the Coast Guard checking IDs. But this future also holds the promise of improvement; a fleet of alien ships slowly drifting in from out past Pluto. The viewpoint character, an ex-nun who lost her faith when the alien fleet was discovered, now spends her time fishing on a charter boat. Light on plot and heavy on imagery, the sonorous story seems ideal for Escape Pod, as it’s less a narrative to read than a happening to experience. Everyone in the story is struggling to communicate: the ex-nun no longer feels in communion with the divine; Gray, her childhood friend and would-be husband, has difficulty defining the parameters of their relationship; her eventual roommate lies comatose and unresponsive. Humanity sends missives into the void, by CB radio and probe, which the aliens ignore, and when people mistake the ex-nun for a current nun, she doesn’t correct them any more than she corrects Gray when he calls himself her boyfriend. When the alien message arrives, its ineffability seems natural, even inevitable.
(The audio version of the story has exceptionally poor sound quality, but the full text is available at the link above.)