Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Face Value by Karen Joy Fowler


What an interesting story.

Two explorers, Hesper a linguist / poet and Taki an xenologist are embedded in an alien community trying to communicate with the native beings.

The story is interesting on two levels.

First, the team is trying to make, not so much first contact, as they are already accepted within the strange community, but first communication. The residents know they are there and interact by touching each human and going through their things.

Second, we witness the changing dynamics between Taki and Hesper: their relationship becomes strained by the frustrating lack of progress.

Stories like this one expose the fallacy of our current TV science fiction trope; that all we need to communicate is a universal translator.

Well worth reading.

This story was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 1986.

Karen Joy Fowler's website is here:   http://karenjoyfowler.com/

Karen Joy Fowler
Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 1986

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