Tag Archive | #diversity

Melting Shlemiel by Jason Werbeloff

Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This is the third novella in the futuristic visionary collection “2054” from a diverse quartet of authors.

In the year 2054, Shlomo “Shlemiel” Menachem, resident of Jerusalem and member of a conservative Jewish sect, lives inside a shell, a personalised safety Bubble and something all humans in Jerusalem have (from what I could tell), that he was put into following his bar mitzvah. Being a clumsy individual, this transformation came as something of a blessing to his parents, but it still causes problems to Shlemiel. Communication is via some type of morse code that is either thrummed through thrummers located in the knee region, or by tapping on the other person’s carapace. Food – energy – is obtained by firing weapons of various types at the carapace – which presumably then converts the kinetic energy into energy the body can utilise. The only place the shell recedes is in the synagogue, when the devout step into a pool of water.

One night at Shabbos, a stranger enters an overflow pool at the mikvah – Shlemiel is the only other person in that pool – and Shlemiel is drawn to the “otherness” of this person. Some days later, Shlemiel comes across the stranger again, and follows them to a red door. What lies behind the red door?

Oh, there is so much to this story. From finding a solution to the “bubble-wrap” generation’s issues to taking current life in Jerusalem and fast-forwarding some decades, Werbeloff has created a really inventive future. His portrayal of the vulnerability created when one does something one perceives to be wrong was spot-on, and I appreciated his sensitivity to diversity and the need to bring together rather than divide. Shlemiel is a very endearing character, and this story was a delight – both from the human perspective as well as the technological advances envisioned.

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The Waitabits by Eric Frank Russell

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Oh my goodness, but this story made me laugh out loud. There aren’t that many that get to through to my expressed emotions these days, but this one… definitely made it.

In this extraordinary take on time, Russell puts two groups together whose sense of time just runs differently. When one species meets another, the latter being a breed apart in that they live life in the slow lane quite literally, the results are utterly comical – if one stands far enough away to view them for what they are. Recall the scene where Judy Hopps meets the sloth in Zootropolis, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Going in, I was scratching my head rather, as Russell typically drops one in the middle of a normal day with zero explanation as to what’s really going on. That’s ok – neither does the main character. But this story really hots up when one lands on the planet of the Waitabits and the inter-species interactions begin. Extremely well written with great setting and characterisation, this was one of my best reads this year.