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A Burden Shared

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  35 reviews

What we do for one another is a mystery.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Kindle Edition, 19 pages
Published April 19th 2017 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  152 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it

“No, seriously, Mom! I never get to do anything for you, because you never have any pain. But now I could! And you always say how much easier it is to bear somebody else’s pain. Everyone says that. Let me!”

review to come.

read it for yourself here:
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-freebie
Super depressing story about how if you ignore your own life and concerns, putting others first all of the time, it bites you in the rear. 3 stars. Free from Tor.

Quick addendum. I WISH it were possible to share pain, so doctors and others would actually believe you when you complained about something, rather than saying "it's all in your head". I've had TOO many friends, all female by the by, who were ignored and put down because no one believed what they were saying. It would be nice to just
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff, ebooks-online
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bad as enduring Ann’s pain could be, it was so much better to suffer it herself than to watch her daughter suffer.

Ah, motherhood.

As soon as your child is born, you immediately become less important. Suddenly, everyone else's needs come before your own. And if you could take on your child's pain, if you could suffer in your child's place, you'd willingly do it . . . wouldn't you?

Imagine that science has made such a thing possible. Pain transference is now common; yep, there's an app for that!
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
We say we share pain, when we sympathize. But this is a world where pain actually is shared. Where with the tap of an app you can send your pain to a willing recipient.

In this case, it is the mother sharing the pain of her daughter.

It is an interesting concept, and what mother, or parent, wouldn't want to do this for their child?

It is interesting to read the comments, after reading the story, arguing about how women should not have to do this for their children, and why is it always the women,
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: tor-com-others
Excellent concept and good characters. It felt like just a scene, as if there should have been more.
Izabella (Pages Full of Stars)
Read it for free on

It was a very disturbing short story, to the point that I don't know what to think about it. The author wanted to show a concept of sharing the pain, where your loved ones or friends could take your pain away - but would have to suffer it for you.

The idea itself is just as interesting as it is disturbing, but I think it didn't really work for me, because I couldn't fully justify the characters' actions. I did understood why the parents would want to take away their
I like the family dynamics here - there is a lot left unsaid, and the subtext helps to make the story more memorable. The premise of being able to share your pain with other people or take their pain for them raises interesting questions that are hinted at without being spelled out.
April Thompson
Apr 26, 2017 rated it liked it

I don’t want to oppose but the fact is I just didn’t like the concept of this tale. It’s a science fiction story & I have to admit the concept indeed is interesting to read but maybe not for me...

1. She woke Wednesday morning in absolute agony, pain tearing through her stomach like the worst imaginable period cramps, combining to set all Ann’s arthritic joint pain jangling. Penny blinked, and gasped aloud. When she tried to move, she could not suppress a cry. She called her daughter right
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Sorry, Jo Walton, but there are some examples of very weak exposition in this story. The weakest, in fact. I'm surprised your editor didn't spot landmarks of clunkiness like (view spoiler) ...more
Danielle N
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
This mini review may also be found on Books, Vertigo & Tea.

This is a very brief story with a strong residual after effect. Portraying a life where we are given the ability to transfer pain between individuals, it shows the effects of a family choosing to share a daughter’s burden. A Burden Shared raises significant questions and addresses the importance and value of our own pain. As a mother and a woman living with chronic illness, this was an amazingly heavy hitter at only 19 pages.
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shared pain is lessened.

I've been thinking about that a lot this week, about Callahan's and everything that it means.

And then this story comes along and kicks me right in the gut.

A system that allows people to take on pain for other people. How it's easier to deal with pain when it's someone else's, rather than your own.

Which, honestly, is how I'm dealing with my grief. By looking after other people.
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A stunning concept

As a household that deals with a great deal of pain, the concept behind this story is stunning. The idea that you could aid someone in this way would give society a very real concept of what others suffer. I think that the story could have been fleshed out more, giving a stronger sense of all the pros and cons as well as everyday life being changed on such a vast level.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
In a near future there has been a medical break-through in the field of pain management. While the pain still cannot be removed, it can now been shared. This is the story of a loving mother, that decided to share an heavy burden for the love of her daughter. A very interesting analysis of the impact of such a technology on families and society. I am left with the feeling that this could have been an even stronger story, if more space was given to it to develop.
Apr 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Deeply disturbing. I liked the concept more than I liked the writing (although I've read Jo Walton before and have enjoyed her writing). At the begining it seemed to go on and on with the concept but then you start to see how this has affected the dynamics between the chacarters, which for me was the great part about the story. I wish she had dug deeper on this aspect.
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017, fiction
This is about pain.

In a futuristic society, people are able to share pain. Penny and Noah trade off on their (adult) daughter's pain. At the end of it, (view spoiler).

I liked this look at a close-knit family and friends - it's a nice look at illness and caretaking.
Em The Reading Challenge Challenge
Softer science fiction than what I’m really interested in but I appreciated the disability representation. The idea of being able to transfer chronic pain between people was a fascinating notion - would love to be able to do that in real life.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A Bear and a Bee Books
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great short story about a mother and a daughter. It looks at helping others with their burdens in a physical way. It is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and plan to try more from this author in the future.
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, read-2018
A nice thought-provoking short story that wisely doesn't try to stretch out its concept to longer than it might be able to handle. (Something that might have improved Never Let Me Go!)
Alex Sarll
A short, ingenious high concept story which gets through plenty of ramifications of its what-if: voluntary pain transference. The basic act of charity, the guilt, and ultimately the limitations.
Matt Fimbulwinter
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oof. Right in the feels!

A short story in a world where pain can be redirected to other consenting people.
Apr 19, 2017 added it
Shelves: tor-com
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I can't tell if this story was too short or too long. Regardless, it felt like the scenes were grafted together with emotion rather than logic.
Che Adventure
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
heartwarming and heartbreaking. wanted more about the mechanics of how the pain transference app worked. 4.5 rating video link to my review
Ria the Reader
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting idea, but I would have liked more expansion of the story. Sad ending but well written and worth reading. 4 ! ...more
Tom Loock
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Heavy stuff, disturbing if (view spoiler).
Not sure the length/format does the idea justice.
elizabeth jovena
3.5 stars
Rachael Abude
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was actually completely intrigued by this story. I have never read anything like it. Although the ending felt unfinished, it was very original and struck a chord with me.
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Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.