Review: “Each to Each” by Seanan McGuire

2 of 5 stars.

Mankind is pushing deeply into the seas, as they are out into space. Underwater cities are being planned for the sake of commerce–minerals and oil. The military is first pushing into these speculative zones with an all female submarine navy in which most of the “military mermaids” have had significant body and genetic modification done to adapt to the deep sea environment.

Our narrator remains nameless, and refers to most of her peers by their type and level of adaptation to the sea: blue shark, mako, eel, jellyfish. Why anyone would remove the appendage bones of a soldier and give them jellyfish tentacles for legs, is not explained and truly baffling and inane. The narrator’s heavy references to her own adaptions [fins, gills] without mention of her “app package” species, is also odd.

This is not a story, as there is little to no plot. It is a vignette, about the cultural rift that occurs between those that take the genetic adaptations to become mermaids and those that don’t. Plot would get in the way since jellyfish adaptations, among others, would be near-useless. The world of this tale is not as purposeful and thought-out as that of “Driftglass” by Samuel R. Delaney with its amphimen.  That precedes this one by over 50 years and incidentally is also in this anthology.

This story appears in the latest anthology edited by Paula Guran, Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep, published by Prime Books. “Each to Each” first appeared in Lightspeed, June 2014.

[Check out my other reviews here.]


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