5 May 2009

"The Slows" Short Story Review

Read it now : "The Slows"
By Gail Hareven, Translated, from the Hebrew, by Yaacov Jeffrey Green.
In The New Yorker
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 4,000 approx.

This science fiction story is interesting for all sorts of reasons. Firstly, it is by somebody famous I've never heard of. Gail Hareven is a famous writer who lives in Israel and writes in the Hebrew language. Since I only read English it's not surprising that I haven't heard of her before.

Gail Hareven was a student of behavioral science and of philosophy at universtiy. Both these things are present in her sf story "The Slows", but in a very subtle way. In this story she portrays an anthropologist who fails to see past his own cultural preconditioning. He thinks his view of the world is the natural and only one.

The premise of "The Slows" is simple enough. The idea is that in the future Humans reproduce through a means of accelerated growth so that by eleven weeks they are already self-sufficient, productive beings. There are some Humans, though, living on the preserves, who choose to have only three or four children in their lives and raise them the old fashioned, slow way.

This is repugnant to the anthropologist telling the story.

There are many other reasons to be intrigued by this story. For instance "The Slows" speak for every minority group who are not seen as merely different, but as threatening to the main culture. The narrator even trots out the old line that "They don't love their children as we do ours." Reading on, you find that the narrator's idea of love is very different from ours. What, then, is love?

Read it here.

Morva Shepley

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