This is the first published story of that author? It's unbelievable. On several points while reading I was like "this is so good" and "this is so well thought-through" and there is so much tension, the structure is perfekt, everythings fits togehter and nothing can be left out. This must be a decade-wise pro of short stories! Maybe the author is writing short stories since decades, but has not published anything for some reason before this.
This might be the first, but hopefully won't be the last! I am all in. I might buy the next magazine just because there's a story of Tia Tashiro in it, just like I have already done because of Angela Liu or Kelsea Yu.
To carry you inside you
Thanks to a review in the Locus Magazine, I bought the issue (I buy almost every issue anyway) and read the story. It's free available here as well.
Structure-wise there are two timelines: When the narrator (second person singular) was a kid and now, in the present. This allows for some cool cliffhangers and is very wise in terms of tension. I enjoyed it a lot!
As a girl, the narrator worked as an actress (starting at age six) and to be able to memorise the text and be "twitched" into feelings, she had a port which could be plugged and used. Real rears, read sadness. No acting necessary.
This itself is a great idea, but there is more, much more.
At some point, the career of the narrator ended, because of a very common reason: Puberty hit and there were no more roles for an arkward teenager.
Nowadays, the narrator works as a surrogate for dead people (who were downloaded before their death). Her new job is to spend one hour a week as a father and grandfather with his family (his name is Elias), who died in his seventies. This is described in much authentic detail and I cannot help but add my own thoughts and imaginations about lost loved ones, about time with grandparents for me or my kids (who recently lost one of their grandmothers). This is SF how I like it best. There are so many SF ideas in the story, but also so many true things about family, about love, about being a human being. About surviving. And grief.
There are cinematic details as well and I can not only hear, but also see lots of the stuff happening in my head. Check out this:
"The pictures your clients uploaded in their initial posting portray a thin man, veined hands with savagely short fingernails clutching the arms of his wheelchairs."
The word "savagely" makes my day in this sentence!
At some point, there were nor new implantations of ports. It is never fully said why, but that's even better. I can imagine. I do not need an answer for that. There is a lot about this world to learn and I get sufficient details to get through the story, I know everything I need to now and not more! This is an author who knows where to put an end to world building and information.
I love the language. I could just print sentences like this:
"Your mother was over the moon. You soaked in her happiness and made it your own."
"Once you plug in his drive, you'll become a croissant of personhood, a kaleidoscope of mishmash being. Your port, his drive. Your mind, his remnant. Your body, his face."
"Eilias's excitement rises in your chest, a bolus of oxytocin hitting hard, and your own contentment responds"
It's a great read! I could go further and further, but I won't spoil it. There are so many great passages, this story sure is in for a re-read.