Review: This is as I Wish to be Restored by Christine Yant
I have a documented aversion to sad stories. But it’s not because I need my stories to be upbeat. I read stories to improve my mood, but the real problem is that a large amount of them seem to exist to let the author spew emotions on the page without being interrupted by story or plot. So, when I come across a story like “This is as I wish to be Restored,” by Christine Yant I have to resist my urge to make assumptions about the story before I have read it.
“This is as I Wish to be Restored,” is the story of a man who works for a company that keep people in cryogenic suspension. In the past the company had a fiscal crisis and cut costs the only way they could. They got rid of the oldest, and least likely to be revived bodies. This was clearly painful not only to the protagonist but to everyone at the company because they think of the people who have been frozen there as real people.
Because of this, the protagonist took one of those people and set up a cryogenic chamber in the basement of his house and has been keeping it running since. Inside is a woman who died of pancreatic cancer at a much younger age than most of the people in the center who were mostly old. Now they have discovered whatever technology it is they were waiting for and have began to revive their clients and the protagonist will be forced to admit what he did to have her revived.
This is a story about obsession. The main character knows almost nothing about the woman who he has saved except for a photo and a note, but he has built up a story around knowing next to nothing. We could take this as him being a creepy, obsessive drunk but I think it’s something more interesting. This was the only person he could save, and the guilt over the others has manifested itself in the need to convince himself that this one woman is special. That he saved the right person. Beyond that though he fears what will happen when she is revived since her only request was to be restored how she was in her single photo, something they cannot do.
I was surprised to enjoy this story as much as I did. I think the primary thing that made it work for me when so many stories don’t is that while the protagonist while clearly troubled and probably an alcoholic he has a goal. There is something he wants, and that gives the story a forward momentum that stories about someone feeling sad about the death of a child or parent doesn’t have. Also, even though this is a story about death, about someone lost to early, it isn’t hopeless. It is in fact the opposite as they have found a way to bring these people back, even if it isn’t perfect. So while it is unlikely that a story with this tone is ever likely to be among my favorites this was one that I enjoyed far more than I would have expected. You can find “This is as I Wish to be Restored” in the January 2014 issue of Analog magazine or on Literary Portals You can find Christine Yant at her website inkhaven.net
Bonus: If you want people to be able to find your story pick a name like this. It’s not made up, but it’s written in a way that makes it come up when you search google.