Considering the rough month I’ve been having, I started looking to things that I knew would be cathartic for me–movies, books, even toys. As my trials wound down to a close, I found myself re-reading Tananarive Due‘s short story, “Like Daughter”. Fitting because it is, in essence, a story about starting over and trying again.
This story is collected in the first Dark Matter anthology, a collection of black speculative fiction. Although that doesn’t do it justice. I still remember picking this up in my college library my freshman year, along with another influential anthology for me, Black Like Me (an LGBTQ anthology). I devoured both of them between study sessions and breaks and wandering around my vast campus…
“Like Daughter” didn’t particularly resonate with me at first, but even *ahem* a few years later pieces of it stuck in my mind. The prose is subtle and almost horror-like, akin to low fantasy in which you might not even realize it’s a science fiction piece until the world is fully revealed to you. The sterile, overly clean settings really make this piece haunting. My chief complaint is I think I would have preferred to see it in third person point of view rather than first, but I also admit that coming from Paige’s perspective is what gives the prose some of it’s horror.
Upon my last reading, I realized I relate to this story so much because of it’s themes of starting over and recreating in the future to attempt to fix the past. We’ve all had terrible things happen to us and mistakes that we’ve made, and we wonder what life would be like if that never happened to us. Would we be different? Would the world be different? Usually in conjunction with time travel, this is a common theme in speculative fiction. But here it is given a context that makes it much more heartbreaking than usual.
As I put my reader down, I just sat there for a while contemplating and relating back to themes of my life; to me, that’s what a good emotional piece should do. I’d highly suggest picking up the entire anthology on Amazon here and consider further editions as well! Dark Matter exposed me to a great number of authors I would come to see over and over for years to come, and my first real exposure to Afrofuturism to boot. Hopefully, you can find something to love here too.