Review of Give the Family My Love by A.T. Greenblatt

It all started with a letter and a trek across a foreign land. 

5/5

Give The Family My Love

by A.T. Greenblatt

I’m beginning to regret my life choices, Saul. Also, hello from the edge of the galaxy.

Also, surprise! I know this isn’t what you had in mind when you said “Keep in touch, Hazel” but this planet doesn’t exactly invoke the muse of letter writing. The muse of extremely long voice messages however . . .

― 

A.T. GreenblattGive the Family My Love

My Thoughts

“Give my family my love” is a phrase fraught with meaning. It could be a phrase as light and delicate as something uttered on the phone to a relative while on vacation, “Hey see you next week and give the family my love.” Or, densely and emotionally packed containing the summation of a lifetime of love between individuals, “Goodbye my love, I am leaving for boot camp and then active service, give my family my love.” It is purely contextual and an outright compelling phrase dependent on the circumstances. That is why it is such an apt name for this nebula nominated short story, Give my Family My Love by A.T. Greenblatt. In this turn of phrase, it is used in a way that encompasses all. It is a goodbye to not only the protagonist’s planet, and her life, but to everything she has ever known. 

It all started with a letter and a trek across a foreign land. 

“I’m beginning to regret my life choices, Saul. Also, hello from the edge of the galaxy.”

Hazel, an astronaut, is traipsing to a destination through on an utterly foreign planet. She is an astronaut, matter a fact, she is the last astronaut from Earth. Hazel is a hail mary; she is all the hopes and dreams for a dying planet. And most of all, she is the little sister to a very pissed older brother. Whom the letter she is dictating as she tromps through the soil is meant for.  

“So here I am. Walking.”

Saul(her brother) becomes a beacon for why she is doing this. 

“Sorry to do this to you, Saul, but if I don’t talk to someone—well, freak out at someone—I’m not going to make it to the Library. And like hell I’m going to send a message like this back to the boys on the program. You, at least, won’t think less of me for this. You know that emotional meltdowns are part of my process.”

As she walks, she realizes that she might die far from home and alone in the most real and complete sense. What Hazel is walking to is The Library. An alien collection of information, that if Hazel is good enough for, she may have access to and live. She tells Saul all this. 

The reason I loved this story is that it is subtle and still magnificently massive in scope. The subtleties are around Hazel’s relationship with her brother and a lifetime of nuances and moments. Moments that are known and appreciated to anyone that has a brother, maybe a brother you are currently in a tiff with. It is an intimate moment inside a character, that even with such limited dialog, you can get a clear sense and feeling of her mind and presence in the scene. Also, through Hazel’s letter writing, you can get a sense of the hugeness of what she is doing. The last hurrah of the human race. The one and only astronaut sent to the stars to save humanity. Even with this huge thing, Hazel is pretty grounded and ordinary, making jokes with her brother while occasionally being flummoxed at the craziness of doing what she is doing. 

“The Archivists have set up something that’s not too different from a studio apartment in the corner of the section on sea coral. It has running water and artificial sunlight and all eleven seasons of M*A*S*H on a TV that looks like it came from the 1980s. I have this theory that my living quarters are part of some junior Archivist’s final thesis project, but I’m probably just culturally projecting. On the bright side, if they picked the 80s, they could have done much worse than M*A*S*H.”a

“There aren’t many defining moments in my life. Mostly, I think defining moments are clichés in hindsight. So maybe this is too, but do you remember that summer, ten years ago, when everything burned? Yeah, hard to forget.”― 

A.T. GreenblattGive the Family My LOve

The story delves even deeper when Hazel talks about moments where things changed for her. Moments of profound sadness. 

I feel like somewhere in our ever-diminishing world, there is someone like Hazel, or maybe she hasn’t been born yet. That will get this chance to see The Library and send information back that will save humans from themselves. I hope to meet that girl, or maybe my daughter is that girl, or perhaps your daughter is. I wish I meet her. I will not want her to go, can’t someone else go? But she leaves me to seek the stars. I will miss her, desperately, to the very marrow of my bones, I will miss her. And maybe I will be her Saul. She will tell me how her day went at the Library, learning of the wonders of the world, how books came to life right before her and enveloped her. I will get to see this girl live a dream. I will get to know this girl save us. But I will never see this girl again. In that last part, Give My Family My Love becomes bittersweet. 

I loved this story, and you will love it too. 

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About the Author

I’m A(liza) T. Greenblatt. An engineer and a writer. A constant reader and music listener. An adventurous/messy cook and baker. Movie watcher, button mashing gamer, traveler, and gym rat. I like to make things and solve problems. I like to build things and write things down.

Why don’t I use my full name as my byline? Because when I first Googled myself this Aliza Greenblatt came up. It’s okay though, she beat me to it fair and square.

My stories have appeared in Uncanny, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, Podcastle, and others. I’ve been a finalist for a Nebula and a Parsec Award.

I was an editorial assistant for a few years at Every Day Fiction and Flash Fiction Online and am a graduate of Viable Paradise XVI and Clarion West 2017. I was an interviewer at Flash Fiction Chronicles, pestering EDF’s top author of the month with questions.

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