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Since the Nebula nominee list has been released, I’ll put other stuff on hold and do some reviews. The list of Nebula nominees is typically diverse and continue the trend to choose highly sentimental stories. This is a short story published by Lightspeed (6/15).

Madeline is suffering from grief after her mother dies and signs up for a clinical trial that includes a drug to help with her readjustment. Instead, the drug triggers episodes where Madeline experiences vivid memories from her childhood with her mother. After a while, she also encounters another woman named Zeinab in these episodes that she doesn’t recognize. She finds herself in an adversarial relationship with her therapist, a clinical psychologist named Clarice. Zeinab turns out to be another woman in the program, who helps Madeline win her freedom from the trials.

This is a mature, well-written story featuring Madeline’s exploration of her memories and her relationships with Clarice and Zainab. However, it doesn’t generate much in the way of drama or conflict as it wends its way through to a comforting ending. It barely kept my interest, and it’s likely I wouldn’t have finished it if I didn’t intend to write a review. I’m pretty ADHD these days. It has the benefit of diversity in the author, but there’s nothing of diverse culture in the story. Madeline could be any daughter grieving her lost mother.

Three stars.

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