Strange Horizons, August 10, 2015

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Strange Horizons, August 10, 2015

Beyond Sapphire Glass” by Margaret Killjoy

Reviewed by Nicky Magas

Once there were people who built machines and all sorts of unnatural gears and electronics. Then, one day, they built a computer and uploaded themselves into it to live for eternity. Since that day there have been no machines, and all the people who want to live in that world of the past go on a pilgrimage into the computer. For all intents and purposes they are dead forever to the real world. In “Beyond Sapphire Glass” by Margaret Killjoy, Janna is a guardian of the computer. She and her fellow guardians protect and service it, and house prospective pilgrims for one year before allowing them to join the other uploaded consciousnesses. Unfortunately, being uploaded means leaving everything behind, life, family, friends—lovers. So when Hannah arrives at the compound the bond she and Janna forge threatens to tear them both up, as neither Hannah nor Janna understand each other’s chosen path in life.

Beyond Sapphire Glass” is an incredibly short yet deeply emotional story about first love and heartbreak. While in a science fiction setting, the painfully divergent paths of the two lovers reminds readers that even two hearts deeply connected can drift apart down different roads in sometimes inevitable ways. Told more or less in the second person, Janna recounts her painful attachment to one year in the past, and how, even as time marches on, her first love remains her strongest.