THE NEW VOICES OF SCIENCE FICTION preview: “IN THE SHARING PLACE” by David Erik Nelson
In celebration of the recently released THE NEW VOICES OF SCIENCE FICTION, Tachyon and editors Hannu Rajaniemi and Jacob Weisman present
glimpses into the future of science fiction from several of the volume’s
IN THE SHARING PLACE
David Erik Nelson
are brought to the Sharing Place because a loved one has died.
must always use the present perfect tense and passive voice: “A
loved one has died.” Not “A loved one is dead,” and never “this
killed a loved one” or “a loved one was killed by
or even “a loved one died because of the other
actual circumstances of the death are inconsequential. They have
nothing to do with why children are brought (note the passive voice)
to the Sharing Place, nor when they will leave the Sharing Place.
are brought to the Sharing Place because a loved one has died and,
despite being young, they may very well still suffer Rejection if
they fail to process this grief.
just about the only thing we can do for our children now is help them
are three rules at the Children’s Sharing Place. The first is that
a child may leave at any time, provided they attest that they are
ready to leave on two separate occasions.
boy with the long hair that hangs over his eyes does not speak for
his first two sessions in group. On the third session the first thing
he says is that he is ready to leave.
shouldn’t even be here, he explains. His father isn’t dead, he
you say, “your father has died.”
does not speak again for the remainder of the session.
next day, he repeats that he is ready to leave.
say nothing, because that is the therapeutic protocol. This protocol
demands impartiality and discipline: A child who has self-selected to
leave will not progress further if forced to stay in the Sharing
Place. Worse yet, a non-progressing child could derail the others’
remain silent, but the other children attempt to talk sense into him.
They Bargain. This is appropriate.
tell Augie he can’t go, because he just got there, because he
hasn’t resolved any of his issues, because he hasn’t Said It
yet, hasn’t even started to Say It. They say that if
he goes into the Waiting Room now, he’s definitely going to get
Rejected. They say that he can go but doesn’t have to: he
can still just go back to the dorms and then have dinner and then go
to bed and then get up and then go to class and then return to their
next session. He doesn’t have to leave, even if he said he
wants to leave. Fifty-seven minutes pass this way.
time is almost up for today,” you say.
stands without a word and opens the Waiting Room Door. Beyond the
Waiting Room Door is a small waiting room—just a pair of
upholstered yellow chairs and a side table with a fan of three
magazines. The top magazine is Ranger Rick. You have never
been in the waiting room, and so do not know what the other two
magazines may be. There is also a potted plant. There must be a
draft, because the potted plant nods rhythmically, like the quiet old
lady knitting in the rocking chair in Goodnight Moon.
of course, there is the other door, the EXIT. The word “EXIT”
glows above it in red. It probably isn’t even three long strides
from the Waiting Room Door to the EXIT.
steps through the Waiting Room Door and gingerly shuts it behind him.
The door latch clicks, then there is the faint sigh of the EXIT
door, followed by a big and sudden sound, like an alligator
roaring and rolling in a swamp. And then silence.
time is up for today,” you begin to say, but just after you say
“time,” Augie’s scream interrupts you. It is a truly agonized
scream, loud and long and ragged. It doesn’t end, so much as fade.
There is whimpering and crying for a long time after. But this
whimpering is quiet, and the other children in the Sharing Place
understand your words this time. They file out the main door, back to
the dorms and mess hall and everything else down here in their
For more info about THE NEW VOICES OF SCIENCE FICTION, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Matt Dixon
Cover design by Elizabeth Story