SCI FICTION, August 24, 2005

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"Anyway" by M. Rickert                                 
"Anyway" by M. Rickert is one of those stories that lures you along with its simple, understated prose, and then delivers an emotional punch strong enough to take your breath away for a few minutes. In this contemporary first-person story, the female protagonist has a lot on her plate—her mother has Alzheimer’s, and her son has just enlisted in the military. In a rare, lucid moment, her mother tells her that there might be a way to save her son. The catch, as is the matter of course in such stories, is that the price is enormously high—in this case, the whole world.
M. Rickert does an astounding job portraying the protagonist’s experiences, as well as people who surround her. In just a few words, the reader gets a good feeling for what her parents are like, both before and after the tragedy of losing their son, and what her son is like. It is difficult for many civilians to imagine what moves young people to join the military, and Ms. Rickert sheds light on the decision of the protagonist’s son, Robbie.

One of the central conflicts of the story is the rift between Robbie and his peacenik mother, and Ms. Rickert handles it with sensitivity and style—neither is the bad guy, but are merely human beings, with his or her own fears and frailties, dreams and strengths. It is a true pleasure to read a story where the world is not black and white, but complex and richly shaded, and where the stakes are high enough to include the fate of the world.