A review of Fiona Moore’s “Seal” in Lazarus Risen (Bundoran Press, 2016)
By Derek Newman-Stille
Over the past few years, there has been a rising interest in robotic assistance for Long Term Care homes for aged populations. One of the technologies that has been developed is a robotic seal (called Paro) that emulates life and serves as a companion for aged people. Fiona Moore explores this trend through her science fictional story “Seal”, which examines the interactions between an ageing programmer, her daughter, and a robotic companion seal. Viv has consistently disparaged technologies developed for ageing populations and believed that the only valuable scientific pursuits were in space travel, but she now lives in a Long Term Care home and is experiencing that technology directly.
Moore points out issues with Long Term Care homes, bringing attention to the imbalance in resources and the allocation of resources to wealthier people in the home. She highlights the costs associated with care and the resultant inaccessibility of resources for people who are not wealthy. But, most importantly, she examines ideas of surveillance and the lack of privacy in the LTC home as Viv is constantly monitored and all of her habits and behaviours noted by the nursing staff.
Moore highlights issues of family involvement in the LTC home by bringing attention to elder abuse and the potential for family members to take resources away from those in the home.
“Seal” is a collision of technology and the imagination of what constitutes long term care, questioning practices that are taken for granted as normal aspects of care.
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