Strange Horizons, May 10-17, 2004

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"Unfinished" by Jason Stoddard

"Unfinished" by Jason Stoddard is a story about the art an artist creates, a close look at the history that creates the artist, and a future art of editing individuals' memories. It is also a story about fear.

Gillam Anderson, age twenty-four, has finished her training to be an Editor in a world where VR experiences are the norm. Her first assignment is to edit Mina Best, an artist one hundred sixty-three years old who requires editing so she may continue painting.

Gillam, frozen by self-doubts, fails before she edits anything. Still, she's unable to leave the puzzle that is Mina and researches Mina's art only to discover the hope that lies hidden within her paintings. With new understanding, and aided by Mina's representation of her own memories, she returns to the task.

Art, in any form, is a celebration of the artist's ability to overcome private fears and personal insecurities. Here, Jason Stoddard has clarified that struggle for the reader, giving us something to apply to our own lives. As Gillam leaves her Editing to reflect upon her own growth, we are left to contemplate ourselves.