Love and Sex Among the Invertebrates by Pat Murphy
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (9 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
The bombs have fallen, and the world as we know it has ended. In her final days, one robotics engineer works to ensure that life will go on, constructing the creatures that will inherit the earth. New times are coming. The future echoes with the rattle of metal claws.
When death stares at you from a dark corner of the room it’s only a matter of time before you must follow him. In the meantime would you prefer to seek out the companionship of loved ones or finish an extraordinary task?
One of the scariest things I can imagine is knowing when and how you will die and being powerless to prevent it. The individuals I’ve known who have received this knowledge reacted to it in a variety of ways. Some were so ill that they accepted it quietly and others raged until the end. The protagonist knows she’s absorbed too much radiation to survive longer than a few days. While she’s still alive she decides to use the skills she’s gained working as a scientist to create something marvelous.
What I found most interesting about her narrative is that clues are planted from the beginning that point to two different interpretations of what actually happens. I found myself drawn to the more pessimistic explanation of the two but I can also see how the happier theory could be the one the author prefers. In the end it’s up to the reader to decide which one he or she wants to believe in and for this story that tactic works well.
The narrator is described as someone who has spent her entire adult life preventing other people from getting too close to her. A few well-placed flashbacks provide concrete examples of this behaviour and explain why she’s all alone in her lab after everyone else has fled. Her talent for shutting others out made it difficult for me to sympathize with her, though, because she came across as a cold, unfeeling individual. We never even learn her name. Due to this I had trouble becoming emotionally invested in her and her mission.
Love and Sex Among the Invertebrates is a solid tale that kept me up past bedtime wondering how I’d react to the end of my species. I’d recommend it to anyone who has ever grown wistful in the presence of fossils or wished they could know what will happen to the earth after mankind’s reign is finished.