4 of 5 stars.
This short story, included in After the End: Recent Apocalypses edited by Paula Guran, is beautiful in its construction. It starts just a bit slowly, but appropriately, for the POV offered and the bleak landscape rendered. The setup is that amid global, environmental breakdown the balance of power has shifted between Mexico whose economy has stabilized and the United States which has devolved into isolationist cities with a lawless, hardscrabble southwest.
Our protagonist is a Mexican National who brings vaccines and needed medicines to the rough, abandoned peoples of the American Southwest. Through his eyes, we see the beauty and tragedy of this landscape. However, what I found most beautiful was how thoroughly this story revolved around genetics in this future. Super-strains of diseases are running rampant including measles and Avian flu. Also, melanomas and diabetes are epidemic. Seasonal cures can be administered in the form of genetically enhanced chicken eggs. This casts GMOs in a positive light, but the negative side of GMOs is represented by the illegal production and trade of “pharm” plants.
The surveillance state is such that GMOs and people alike can be identified, traced and analyzed by satellite and computers.
The heart of the story is less about the Big Brother State, but a love lost without a trace and, ultimately, a longing for the only genetics our protagonist cares about, the unidentifiable her.
[Check out my other reviews here.]