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Hugo Award 2019 Shorts discuss > “STET” by Sarah Gailey

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 23, 2019 05:47AM) (new)

This is our discussion of the 2019 Hugo Award "best short story" finalist...

STET” by Sarah Gailey
It can be read on-line at Fireside Magazine.

NB: The story's formatting is elaborate & essential to the reading experience. I strongly suggest reading it on the web page above (it's very short) rather than trying to replicate it on an ereader..

This is part of our discussion of the 2019 Hugo Award short story & novelette finalists.


message 2: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 522 comments This one has a content warning and it deserves it. Intense. Total opposite of the last one I read. Wish I had read themin reverse - this is .. not what I want to read last before bed!

Really interesting format for a story - we're getting all sorts of neat new formats for stories these days and this one is a first for me.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Rachel wrote: "Really interesting format for a story ..."

A story that's essentially a series of footnotes is almost unique in itself; adding editor's notations as well is definitely original.

The subject matter, less so. The "Trolley Problem" has been discussed quite a bit with regard to self-driving cars lately. I'm surprised Gailey put it so far into the future (at least 2042, per the faux citations.) Gailey's new twist is that the AI's driving her cars have learned to study the world around them and re-train themselves, to the point they value an endangered species above human life.

All that aside, the story is short, pointed & disturbing, which makes it a success, I guess.


message 4: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 2519 comments It was very unique, with the footnotes escalating in intensity as they went along, by the end you could really feel Anna's pain.

My ereader didn't like it though, or should I say Calibri's conversion to epub was a disaster so I was mightily confused when I first started reading it. I got all the footnotes first, and those "..." images where HUGE so it seems even more "artistic" and unique a style than it actually was :)

Dumb question...what does STET mean? Anna kept using it as a response as if it meant something, like QED.


message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 23, 2019 02:36PM) (new)

"STET" is an editor's mark meaning "Let stand, or Ignore the edit."

It makes more sense if you think of it in the old days of taking a blue pencil to a printed galley. It's used by a single editor to correct an edit begun in error, or by a second editor, or, as in this case, by the author to reverse an edit and restore the original text. It instructs the typesetter to ignore the other blue pencil and go with the original text.

Not much used in the world of text editors like MS Word.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Andrea wrote: "My ereader didn't like it though, or should I say Calibri's conversion to epub was a disaster ..."

Yeah, I recommend reading at the original web page (linked to above.)


message 7: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 522 comments The content was pretty disturbing though - it somehow felt SO real - how distraught a person would have to be to be writing these editing notes!! I found it very powerful. The child loss part. I do have two 5 year olds so I'm highly sensitive to it at this life stage. Basically my absolute worst nightmare.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Rachel wrote: "The content was pretty disturbing though - it somehow felt SO real - how distraught a person would have to be to be writing these editing notes!! I found it very powerful. The child loss part...."

Agreed, the story feels really angry, as you'd expect from the loss of a child. "It was murder, the car had a choice, you can’t choose to kill someone and call it manslaughter."


message 9: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin | 68 comments This is easily my favorite of the short stories. I really liked the intensity ramp up of the footnotes and the comments between the editor and Anna and her continued use of STET in response. I don't have kids so I don't think my reaction was as visceral but it was still disturbing and thought provoking.


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