Strange Horizons -- August 13, 2018

Wednesday, 15 August 2018 09:56 Gyanavani

Strange Horizons, August 13, 2018

Orphan Tsunami Heathens” by Tiera Greene

Reviewed by Gyanavani

Tiera Greene’s short story “Orphan Tsunami Heathens” is set in the near future where climate change has led to strange and inexplicable natural disasters. Some dozen years before the story begins, Larchmont City, where the story’s action is located, was hit by a tsunami. Relief pours in and a month later the city has rebuilt itself. Only when the storms (now a regular feature) come back does the city understand that close to 40% of its population can grow gills near its rib cage, develop webbing between fingers and toes, and is driven by an infrequent but insatiable urge to feed on human blood.

The heroine of this story, Klein, was five years old when the wall of water hit her hometown. In her late teens an accident forces her to recognize that her uncontrolled passion leaves destruction in its wake. For a while, she denies her newly created twisted nature by going away to college but is forced by a shrinking income to transfer back to her local university. Here her new friends help her to accept her aberrant abilities.

With no help from supernatural forces, Greene’s speculative dystopia is fascinating. She takes a teenager with a set of deviant characteristics, which she explains with scientific precision, and explores rationally her entrance into atypical maturity.