Short Story Review: DEAR SARAH, by Nancy Kress

A Short Story from Year’s Best Science Fiction Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection # 2018

Edited by Gardner Dozois



Short stories’ collections always offer a mixed bag, at least according to individual tastes, and this eclectic anthology proved to be no exception: there were stories that did not speak to me, others that were nice but did not compel me toward a review, and then there were those that gave me that something extra that made all the difference.  Here is one of them…

This is not my first short story by Nancy Kress, and as before I found myself immediately drawn into the picture she paints here of a very changed Earth after first contact with an alien race.  The theme of the aliens coming to our planet is a very familiar one in science fiction, and it usually goes both ways: either they are here to do something bad to humans (exploit, enslave or eat them, or all three together), or they have come to offer a higher level of civilization and better living conditions.

In Dear Sarah the latter scenario is the one that plays out, but it has not brought positive consequences for the Earth population, even though they brought Q-energy, a form of clean power that has supplanted oil and nuclear plants and even the small quantity of coal still in use, so that jobs were lost, and more were still when the aliens’ robots started being employed in manufacturing.  The greater part of the population – those without money of their own – is suffering from the lack of income and living on scant unemployment pay, the resentment against the aliens mounting day by day, fueled by some terrorist groups that are trying to drive the extra-terrestrials away from Earth.

MaryJo, knowing there is no future for her in the small village where her family lives, decides to enlist in the military, the only alternative to the hand-to-mouth existence led by her relatives: since the army is tasked with the duty of protecting the aliens against terrorist attacks or just plain anger from the man in the street, MaryJo’s family is strongly opposed to her choice, seeing it as a form of betrayal – protecting the creatures responsible for the sad situation of the majority of Earth’s population.  And MaryJo indeed finds herself torn between two sides as she tries desperately not to choose one – that is, until she has to…

Short and very realistic, this is a very thought-provoking story about choices and their consequences, and one that feels more grounded in actual reality than in speculative fiction. Something I’ve come to expect from this author…


My Rating: 


6 thoughts on “Short Story Review: DEAR SARAH, by Nancy Kress

  1. I’ve read this author before, her novel Tomorrow’s Kin which was apparently an expansion on a novella of hers called Yesterday’s Kin – any chance that was the story you read? Because it was really awesome. One thing I’ll say, Kress has got some really cool ideas on aliens and first contact, so I’m not surprised you found so much to like about this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have no idea if this short story is related to the novella you mentioned, but one thing is for sure: I can’t wait any longer to read a novel-length work by this author, since all the short stories by her I read were beyond engaging.


  2. I’ve read one or two stories by Kress a long time ago and I’m pretty sure I have some unread novels on my shelves somewhere. I must track those down and give her longer work a try, because based on your review, I’ll love her work😁

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.