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This is one of the Nebula nominees. This story was published in Clarkesworld (7/15).

The pastor’s wife is looking for her son Timmy, who didn’t come home last night. She has been concerned about his rebellion, as he has appeared on Facebook with That Whore Susan. She searches Timmy’s room and finds different things that convince her that Timmy has strayed from God. She finds drugs, which she tries out. These cause hallucinations, but she soldiers through, deciding to visit That Whore Susan. Susan tells her that she and Timmy broke up six months ago, and accuses her of standing by while Timmy’s father abuses him. The wife gets a tip from a hallucination to check with Timmy’s friend Brent, where she finally locates Timmy and has to confront the facts about gayness, family and relationships.

This story is written in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone and makes gentle fun of the religious right with their fundamentalist values and how these can drive their children away. The pastor’s wife does reach enlightenment, which makes this a sweet story. However, I’m not sure it’s speculative fiction. There’s nothing here about science or fantasy, except the hallucinations.

This narrative has high diversity as it addresses gayness and the difficulties children have in coming out to conservative parents. Because of the humor, it has low drama and conflict, even when discussing things like drugs, abuse, gayness and coming out. The message is excellent and clearly stated. I gather that Miller is sure he’s addressing a liberal audience, though. I can see where this would be seriously offensive to conservative fundamentalists.

Three and a half stars.

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