The Song by Erinn L. Kemper

The Song by Erinn L. Kemper
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (29 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A powerful near future story about two people on a whale-processing rig: one a researcher, the other a worker—and the discovery they make by listening to whale song.

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Dan, the main character, was someone who worked on a rig that hunted and butchered whales. I was definitely not a fan of the line of work he chose, but I also grew to like Dan as a person. The tension between strongly disapproving of the part he played in killing such rare, important creatures and thinking he was a decent person in other areas of his life made me eager to keep reading. I appreciated the nuance Ms. Kemper gave to this character. Like real people, he was three-dimensional and wonderfully flawed.

The ending was so abrupt I wasn’t sure what to think of it. In one scene, the plot was building up tension nicely, and then it suddenly stopped. It was disappointing for me not to have a stronger resolution to the storyline based on how well it was written in the beginning and middle. If the ending had been just as well thought out, I would have chosen a much higher rating.

Some of the most interesting scenes were the ones that showed how Dan and his coworkers reacted to their work. They were paid well and treated kindly by their employer, but the nature of their jobs was still a deeply unsettling one. The question of whether their huge pay checks were worth the description of such majestic creatures was something each person had to decide for themselves, and that was something I thought was handled nicely.

I’d recommend The Song to anyone who had ever had qualms about hunting.

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