Reviews

Short Story Review: EACH TO EACH, by Seanan McGuire

 

(click on the link to read the story online)

 

 

Those who have read “Drowning in the Deep” and/or “Into the Drowning Deep” by Seanan McGuire, will probably something more intriguing in this short story than readers who never encountered the author’s version of the mermaid myth. Still, I would recommend it to all her fans and even to those who have not sampled her works yet, because I believe it’s a good, engaging example of her storytelling style.

The premise for “Each to Each” is that global warming has caused water levels to rise so that dry land has become scarce and humanity turned to the sea to try and create a new living environment, while seeking as-yet-untapped resources in the depths.  To do so, and to be able to live underwater, some drastic physical changes are necessary, and a literally new breed of sailors is enlisted to survey the oceans in a way that baseline humans would be unable to: this marks the launch of Project Amphitrite, also known  as Mermaids for the Military – the recruits being all women.

The choice is made at first because the genetically mutated humans would be living in submarines, and women are statistically more tolerant of restricted living conditions, very rarely – if ever – resorting to violence when suffering from ‘cabin fever’. Yet with time another reason for the choice comes to the fore: these women are the pioneers for what might be the future of humanity, and to present that future in the best possible way, to convince ‘drylanders’ that they must accept the change, that inevitable choice must be given a pleasant face and a compelling look, no matter how that might clash with mutated physiology, or an individual’s discomfort:

 

“we’re living advertisements for the world yet to come […] still they see us as fantasies given flesh[…] How easy is it to fear something that you’ve been seeing in cartoons and coloring books since you were born?”

“All this work, all these changes to the sailors, and they still can’t change our required uniforms – not when we still have things that can be called “feet” or “legs” and shoved into the standard-issue boots or trousers.”

 

Yet such drastic changes as these women undergo – changes that bring along pain and suffering for the body and profound adjustments for the mind – lead to an inevitable alteration in outlook and mindset, and little by little these pioneers feel detached from baseline humanity and progressively unable to tolerate the surface world from which they come, or the rigid rules imposed on people that have little or no connection with the beings they used to be, or the organization that enlisted them – because, as the narrator says,  “the chain of command dissolves under the pressure of the crushing deep.”

I found this to be a deeply emotional tale, even though McGuire, as usual, keeps her narration very terse and never gives in to easy sentimentality: this is the kind of story that stays on my mind for a long time after I finish reading it, and one I will not forget to easily.

 

My Rating: 

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12 thoughts on “Short Story Review: EACH TO EACH, by Seanan McGuire

  1. Oh, I can definitely see a connection to the topics of Into the Drowning Deep! I was a bit iffy with the science in it, which makes me a little nervous about this one, but it seems like it explores topics that are more in the social spheres rather than in the biological. Sounds fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you nailed it! It’s more a matter of mindset and gender perceptions and many other topics McGuire excels at, and there is very little science since it’s not the core of the story. I look forward to hearing what you think about it. 🙂

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  2. Her stories all sound so interesting! Stop reviewing so many, they ALL land on my wishlist!! 😀

    Haha, just joking, thanks for highlighting all of them 😉 I started listening to ‘Every Heart a Doorway’ and am in love with the story and the style of writing. I am so happy I picked up one of her works. After it, I want to start the October Daye books 🙂

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  3. I can’t believe how much writing Seanan McGuire manages to achieve – and good writing with real emotional impact. It’s really incredible.
    Thanks for another great review – I’ve not read the Drowning Deep stories yet but hopefully one day.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She is indeed quite prolific, and I keep hunting down (and finding!) more of her short stories, that help me better understand her as an author. The mermaid novels are a bit different from the Toby series, but once you enjoy a writer, you feel the need to explore their works as much as possible 🙂

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  4. Thanks for the review and the link – I enjoyed the story much more than her October Daye novel, Rosemary and Rue, so maybe I should focus on McGuire’s SF side in the future 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As far as series openers go, Rosemary and Rue is not a very strong one, but I feel comfortable passing on the advice I received when I started reading this series: hang in there, and you will see that by book 3 you will be caught into her web – hook, line and sinker! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh well… I’ve done that with Dresden and remember it being worth it, but still quite cumbersome 😉 Not sure if I can pull it off a second time around though – I tend to be more bored by UF lately 😉 Too many beautiful people and non-people everywhere – there is not a single ugly one, or at least one without a six pack! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. LOL on the six pack! 😀
          Luckily the Toby Daye series is not like that (one of the reasons I like it, since I tend to run away from series that have half-dressed beautiful people on the cover…). Even though I admit being biased toward it, it’s not about “the magical and the beautiful”, but rather about interesting characters. Who knows, maybe one day you will give it a second chance…

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