Title: The Visitor
Author: Mark Lawrence
Publication Date: October 18, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Contemporary
Length: 48 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 4 Stars
A stand alone short story that originally appeared in Book 26 of the Wild Cards universe.
The only thing you need to know is that Wild Cards is set in our world, and an alien virus has been infecting people in rare outbreaks. It kills 90% of victims, makes ugly monsters of 9% (Jokers) and gives 1% random superpowers (Aces).
A very personal short story that I’m proud of and want to find a wider audience for.
This story is quite personal to me as my youngest daughter is severely disabled and I’ve attempted to give her representation in the Wild Cards world in a way that doesn’t simply overwrite disability with super-ability, but combines the two. A follow-up story, The Visitor: Kill or Cure, can be found for free on the Tor.com website.
By giving away this story for free I am hoping to interest new readers in the Wild Cards universe.
Content Warning: Pandemic (but not Covid-19), ableism, physical abuse, emotional abuse, attempted murder.
A strong imagination is a gift.
I was impressed with how seamlessly this book blended its science fiction and fantasy elements together. While the science fiction themes did appear first, it didn’t take long at all for that to change. The inexplainable things that happened to Angela, the protagonist, hovered between these genres, although they dipped into the fantasy explanations for how everything worked a little more later on in the storyline. Viruses can do all sorts of strange things to a person, so it made sense to me to leave plenty of room for magical or mythical plot twists as well as share with the audience what scientists had discovered about this plague. Who says you have to pick one answer over the other, after all?
It would have been nice to have more character development. Angela showed some promising signs of personal growth, but I found many of the supporting characters to be pretty two-dimensional. While I wouldn’t expect them to be as well-developed as they might have been in a full-length work, there was definitely room for improvement here. This was especially true for the care workers who mistreated Angela and the other residents of their nursing home.
Speaking of the main character, I found it very interesting to figure out what she knew about the world she lived in given how difficult it was for her to travel or move her own body. She was incessantly curious about the lives of her fellow residents as well as the lives of the workers who looked after them, and she did everything she could to gather any scraps of information that she might overhear from someone else’s conversation or a news story playing on the television. Some of the scenes explored the various types of abuse that are inflicted upon people who are disabled far too often. As tough as it was to read those scenes, they provided even more clues about Angela’s fascinated with the outside world and why she was so keen to learn more about it.
This is part of a series, but it works perfectly well as a standalone story.
The Visitor was a thought-provoking read.