Strange Horizons, December 6, 2021

[On May 10, 2021 Strange Horizons officially expressed its political support for Palestinian solidarity. The views of Tangent Online reviewers are not necessarily those of Strange Horizons. Fiction critiqued at Tangent Online is, as much as is humanly possible, without prejudice and based solely on artistic merit.]

Strange Horizons, December 6, 2021

“Coiffeur Seven” by Kiran Kaur Saini

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

The narrator of “Coiffeur Seven” by Kiran Kaur Saini is an artificial intelligence that performs hairstyling for hospice patients. It does this by directly accessing memories of previous hairstyles in the brains of its clients. The latest patient provides much more than this, however, offering the AI multiple memories of its life, often involving hair. The climax of the story reveals how this happened, and leads to an unexpected transformation.

The author writes effectively in the voice of an unusual narrator, and aptly conveys the importance of hair in human culture. The story’s resolution is surprising, but plausible, given the technology available in this future society. The ending also features a clever change in point of view that fits perfectly with the plot.

Victoria Silverwolf has black hair.