heidi's Reviews > Half Way Home

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey
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Apr 09, 2012

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bookshelves: ebook
Read from April 09 to 13, 2012

I'm not sure if this is a long short story, or a novelette, but it is an interesting story about what happens to a stranded group of teenagers on an alien world. They have the AI of the colony that raised them and then killed most of them. As you can imagine, a group of traumatized 15 year olds has different group dynamics than the full colony would have.

I was actually confused when the narrator, Porter, introduced himself as male. I had interpreted the cover as female, and nothing in the intro is gendered. That was pretty cool.

The writing is really happy-making. Take this analogy "Wrapped up in a scrap of tarp, he looked like a piece of insulated wire." This is totally perfect.

The worldbuilding is also excellent, with the world narrator's experience of it widens. At first, the world is a birth vat. By the end, it is a planet with trees the size of villages, mountains and mines, skies and fields.

One quibble I had was the raging gender essentialism. Really? Really?
Tarsi turned to Mindy. “It must be biological,” she said. “The difference in us, I mean. The boys want to go up it and the girls want to circle around and set up camp.”
I didn’t say anything, wondering what it meant that I agreed with the girls on that score.

Also, there are a ton of gendered and sexualized insults, like "sissy". It seems to me that even now, if we were going to build an AI to educate a embryo to 30, we would avoid putting in divisive things. We wouldn't have it teach racism in a mixed-race colony, for instance. So why would it teach sexism? It is actually very interesting that all the colonists have the same exact cultural imprint.

But it wraps up with this really hopeful thought:
I could love— that was something I knew perfectly well. Tarsi, Kelvin, Stevens . . . even Myra in some ways. I had loved them all and would continue to do so. That was my gift. If anyone was cursed, it was those limited by their programming. Those with hate in their hearts, unwilling to love anyone not like themselves.
Hm. When I first grabbed that quote, I thought it was about Porter pitying those who had not been forced to think about their default heterosexual pairbonding. But maybe instead it is about universal acceptance.
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Reading Progress

04/11/2012 "About halfway done, and it's all starting to go to hell interesting ways."
57.0% "There's been a brief outbreak of weird gender essentialism. Was it because the viewpoint character only got as fapsych in his training"
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