Caregiving at War

A review of A.M. Dellamonica’s “Bottleneck” in The Sum of Us edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law (Laksa Media Group, 2017).By Derek Newman-Stille

Caregiving is about trust. It is about placing your trust in another person. A.M. Dellamonica’s “Bottleneck”, part of the collection The Sum of Us (a collection about caregivers), opens up unexpected possibilities for giving care. Rather than focusing on ideas of care in hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions like many of the stories do, Dellamonica’s tale focuses on caregiving for children and the complexities of child care in war. 

“Bottleneck” explores ideas of soldiers as care givers, examining an Earth at war and it is a war fuelled by alien intervention (its own sort of misplaced paternalism). The protagonist, Ruthless, is a solider who has been asked bring a general’s children to him across hostile territory. The general placed the responsibility for the care of his children in this soldier’s hands. Even though she is considered a ruthless soldier (which influenced her name), she also has experience with care, having looked after her younger brother when they were growing up. She knows the burden of care that is placed on older siblings and she brings her knowledge and experience into her care for these two young people. 

But, Ruthless comes across a man who claims that he has important information for the soldiers and she has to trust him to be around the children even though he has signs of being an enemy combatant. When she is forced to leave one of the children in his care, she ends up extending the trust inherent in a care position to a person who she wouldn’t trust in any other scenario. 

Dellamonica brings attention to the complexities of care during a war, the dangers and unlikely alliances that come from the protection of children. 

To find more about A.M. Dellamonica, visit http://alyxdellamonica.com 

To find out more about The Sum of Us, visit http://laksamedia.com/the-sum-of-us-an-anthology-for-a-cause-2

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Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 40: An Interview with SF couples David Nickle, Madeline Ashby, Kelly Robson, and Alyx Dellamonica

This episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio allows for a whirlwind tour of questions with 4 authors! Today, I interview SF couples David Nickle and Madeline Ashby and couple Kelly Robson and Alyx Dellamonica (who writes under the name A.M. Dellamonica). We explore stereotypes about author couples, the different collaborative opportunities that come from two creative minds working together, different perspectives that each member of a couple may have and how these discussions of different perspectives can allow for new ideas to develop.

In addition to our discussions of writerly couples, we explore some key ideas and perspectives in each of the authors’ works – everything from alien invasions to robot apocalypses and all of the reflective ideas that these speculative pieces deal with.

You can listen to this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio at the link below.

Explore Trent Radio at www.trentradio.ca

Explore Trent Radio at http://www.trentradio.ca

This audio file was originally broadcast on Trent Radio, and I would like to thank Trent Radio for their continued support. I would also like to thank Dwayne Collins for his consistent tech support and help with the intricacies of creating audio files.

Make sure to allow a few minutes for the file to buffer since it may take a moment before it begins to play.

To find out more about the authors explored in this interview, visit the authors’ pages at:

David Nickle: http://davidnickle.blogspot.ca/

Madeline Ashby: http://madelineashby.com/

Kelly Robson: http://kellyrobson.com/

Alyx Dellamonica (A.M. Dellamonica):  http://alyxdellamonica.com/

Doomed to Change

 A review of A.M. Dellamonica’s “The Color of Paradox” at tor.com. 

By Derek Newman-Stille

Like the past, the future has a way of getting into you and this is certainly true for Jules Wills. Knowing the end of the world was in sight, Jules and other time travellers were bounced off of that horrifying future and sent into the past. The only problem is that the brief glimpse of their future stained them, changed them bodily and mentally. Jules is stained by the future he glimpsed when in the Timepress and sees the horrible burning of that future, the smell of rotted flesh, and the strange, unnatural colours of the future every time he sleeps. Even his personality has changed and he has shifted from a non-violent person to someone who dreams of inflicting horrors on others. He feels that he has been infected with the violence that he saw at the end of the world. His body has been irreparably changed by the process of time travel and feels as though it is fundamentally damaged.

A.M. Dellamonica’s “The Color of Paradox” explores notions of inevitability and the desire to change the future during a time (around World War II), when the world seems attached to an inescapable doom. Dellamonica explores the idea of time travel as an attempt to undo some of the horrors that war could inflict on humanity and shapes the idea of survival of the war as itself a form of miracle (one that this story suggests is achieved through time travellers changing the outcome). She explores the damage that war does to bodies and minds and though the PTSD and bodily damage done to her characters is a result of time travel, it mirrors the effects of war and the trauma done to those soldiers who are told that their actions are necessary for ‘saving the world’. 

Dellamonica puts her characters into a situation where they have the choice of either ignoring orders to save one innocent child who they are sent to kill or allow that child’s life to cause the future that eventually dooms everyone. She puts her characters in that classic philosophical question of whether they would kill one innocent child to save millions or allow the child to live and doom the huge amounts of others… and she carries her readers along for this moral ride, questioning how we would cope with this situation and react under similar circumstances. 

You can access this story for free at http://www.tor.com/stories/2014/06/the-color-of-paradox-am-dellamonica

Explore A.M. Dellamonica’s website at  http://alyxdellamonica.com

Adrift

A review of A.M. Dellamonica’s Child of a Hidden Sea (TOR, 2014)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Home is a complicated, multi-faceted, problematic notion, and A.M. Dellamonica captures this complexity in Child of a Hidden Sea. She begins her novel seemingly mid narrative, with her protagonist floating in the sea, facilitating the sense of dislocation for the reader that would shape Sophie’s experience of her new/old world. The reader is swept up by a whirlwind of prose and submerged in an unfamiliar realm, just as Sophie, in her quest to find her birth family, has been placed in a confusing muddle of conflicting stories, feelings of rejection, and torn obligations.

Sophie finds herself in a different world, one that is largely made up of islands located distantly from one another, and yet there is something familiar about this place. The stars are the same as on Earth, but the cultures and languages are entirely different… and there are species of animals that she as a scholar has never seen before on our Earth.

Sophie, motivated by a desire to discover, a desire to understand the unusual or unfamiliar is placed in a scholar’s dream – an entire world that is new and exciting… and yet her curiosity isolates her here. She is viewed with suspicion when she asks questions, interrogating things that those around her treat as taken-for-granted truths. This is a world of magic, which differs greatly from the comfortable world of home, governed by rules that she understands – physics, mechanical properties, and simple rules of causation. She treats this whole world as an object of inquiry. Her curiosity is seen as a threat and it only furthers her persistent feeling of rejection which has shaped her life but gained sharper focus when she finally met her birth mother, who rejected her and reacted with horror at her return.

She is filled with wonder at Stormwrack, a world which she discovers she has familial connections to. She alternates from feelings of belonging, finally finding a place of “home” and discomfort, particularly when she discovers a religious cult whose approach to the world is homophobic and sexist. When she brings her adopted brother Bram with her to Stormwrack, he encounters homophobic violence at the hands of this religious group as part of their general attempt to annex an entire island that is based on polyamorous notions of diverse sexual and love relationships.

Dellamonica explores the isolating power of homophobia and its ability to displace LGBTQ populations in her general narrative of displacement. Child of a Hidden Sea is powerful as a narrative because it embodies both curiosity and the desire to find a sense of home and place to belong as well as its ability to point out that displacement is still a persistant feature in our world, one that is further sharpened by economic inequalities, sexism, homophobia, and general power structures that serve to elevate certain groups of people over others.

You can discover more about the work of A.M. Dellamonica at http://alyxdellamonica.com/ .

To read more about Child of the Hidden Sea visit http://www.tor.com/stories/2014/05/child-of-a-hidden-sea-am-dellamonica-excerpt