Escape Pod in 2020, but it was a year for surprises, so what’s one more? Appropriately, the story itself is about a New Years celebration, and for me is a lot about connecting with what you love, and taking steps to prioritize that love and what makes you happy. Which is wonderful and warm and a fantastic way to step into the new year. So yeah, without further delay, to the review!
“Tru Luv” by Sarah Pinsker (4403 words)
No Spoilers: Molly’s a bartender and photographer spending New Year’s Eve working at the neighborhood bar Meetspace, which is hosting a Tru Luv event. Tru Luv, the match-making company that works by people getting an implant in their wrist that lights up when the user is near someone who is compatible with them according to the company’s algorithms. For Molly, it’s something of a background noise, something she pays attention to but doesn’t seem all that interested in. And as the story follows her on her day, it circles around what it might mean to connect, and how that doesn’t necessarily mean buying into corporate match-making. It’s a quiet and fun story to close out 2020 and open the new year on, a story about resolutions of sorts, but much more about relationships.
Keywords: Implants, Match Making, Bars, Parties, Photography
Review: I really like how the story explores the ideas of relationships. Between people and other people, and between people and their own happiness. Which is what a lot of the corporate match-making services promise--happiness. The happiness of a fulfilling relationship with another person, probably a romantic one. And I like how Molly observes how that works, how the commodification of romance leads to some connections, yes, but also to a kind of atmosphere where people approach it with a kind of entitlement. Not that people aren’t entitled to love, but making it this service, this implant, embodied thing, leads people to feel they can touch others, they can rude to others, all based on an algorithm that they probably don’t understand and might very much take issue with. It’s something where the Tru Luv idea has been refined to get as much money from people as possible. And I love that the previous iteration of this, one that’s out of business because it wasn’t commercial enough, is something that she’s able to appropriate for something very different than it was intended to do. That she can take this commercial concept of romance and twist it to fit an entirely different and much more personally rewarding idea of connection and relationship. One that focuses on herself and her loves that aren’t people. Like the doctor and his cat, Molly finds that she can use a kind of outdated love hardware to help remind her of what’s important to her. Taking back control from the corporations of what love means to her. It’s such a great hack, too, taking something that was meant to get people to sort of spend money on dating apps and making it instead something that’s much more...”old school”? And it speaks to the ways that the technology has such vast potential to help people connect with themselves. With their passions, their loves. But that it’s being perverted by profit, by the structure the technology props up, and that’s where things can get messy and kind of sad. Where people are led away from themselves and what makes them happy and toward a place where they are told what makes them happy and they don’t know themselves well enough to disagree. It’s a lovely story and a powerful way to close one year and begin a new one. Definitely go give this a read!