Friday, March 11, 2011

Aaron's Story Recommendation of the Week :: Movement by Nancy Fulda

Asimov's, March 2011The story recommendation of the week goes to "Movement" by Nancy Fulda, our second SROTW from the March 2011 issue of Asimov's.

This is a short but very powerful piece, the first-person narrative of Hannah, a young woman with "temporal autism," experiencing the passage of time differently from most humans:
[My parents] are not calm and quiet like my brother. They are sweaty from the night air and speak in tense sentences that all jumble on top of each other. If they would bother to wait I might find words to soothe their frantic babble. But they do not know how to speak on my time scale. Their conversations are paced in seconds, sometimes in minutes. It is like the buzzing of mosquitoes in my ears. I need days, sometimes weeks to sort my thoughts and find the perfect answer.
Hannah's condition prevents her from having "normal" interpersonal relationships, but it also allows her a unique perspective on the fast-changing world around her and contributes to her exceptional dancing and cognitive skills. Her parents are considering a medical procedure to undo Hannah's condition. Her mother asks her if she wants this done, but of course Hannah cannot answer right away.

This tale has a strong set-up, raising difficult questions about what is most important in life. Reminiscent of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Fulda's narrative does a wonderful job of getting us inside the mind of her unusual protagonist. The story is also spiced with interesting speculations about the implications of new communications technology.

But what makes "Movement" especially memorable is the outstanding ending. In just a few paragraphs, we learn Hannah's decision, we understand why it is so important to her, and we are heartbroken to realize it is unlikely she will be able to make her wishes understood.

"Movement" is an award-caliber story, and clearly a major breakthrough in the career of Nancy Fulda.

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