The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere, by John Chu (Hugo Nom)
Posted June 24, 2014on:
You can read John Chu’s Hugo nominated short story “The Rain That Falls on You From Nowhere” over at Tor.com. I’ll be posting reviews of the nominated short stories all week, click here to see how far I’ve gotten through the ballot!
“My thoughts on The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere”, by John Chu:
No one knows how or why the water started falling, but once it appears it tends to follow the laws of physics. Outside, inside, summer or winter, it doesn’t matter. If you tell a lie, you are going to get wet. A whopper of a lie means a torrential drenching, whereas a little almost lie will merely spike the humidity in the room. Stating a paradox or open ended possible lie puts the speaker in such a state of painful anxiety, that doing exactly that has become quite a fad. Your best bet? Tell the truth or stay silent. No one ever drowned in a lie of omission.
Matt and Gus have been together for a while now, and although Gus wants to sing his love from the rooftops, Matt still hasn’t come out to his parents. In a do or die moment, they decide to visit Matt’s family for Christmas.
This is a coming out story with a Science Fictional lie detector test.
Matt has told his parents…. sort of. As he explains to Gus, when writing or speaking to his parents, he uses the non-gendered Mandarin word that means sweetheart/spouse/lover. So his parents already know Matt has met the love of his life, they just don’t know that his sweetheart is a man.
The story has a lot of Mandarin phrases, with Matt’s translation for Gus’s benefit. There’s some nice subtext here, of what’s lost in translation, either because the word or phrase doesn’t really have an English equivalent, or because the person doing the translating (Matt) is trying to insulate all parties from what could be hurtful information.
It’s an awkward Christmas dinner to be sure. There are some horrible scenes between Matt and his sister (not horrible writing, beautiful writing. Horrible as in the things she says to him, the things she expects from him, the things she accuses him of. Someone just needs to punch his sister in the face). While the siblings are verbally sparring and soaking the entire kitchen, something wonderful is happening in the next room. Something that won’t ever get lost in translation.
At first, Matt annoyed me. He struck me as weak willed and wishy washy. But once I met his sister, those personality traits began to make much more sense, and they both were perfectly realistic characters. There’s a quick scene between Gus and Matt’s parents that had me instantly in love with them.