When Carter and Sam(antha) learn how to turn off their safeties, not only does the world become a trickier place, they learn new things about each other…
Published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact – December 2011 – Vol. CXXXI No.12.
“Turning It Off” was finalist for the 2012 Prix Aurora Award.
This is the first story by Susan Forest I have read. Hoping to learn a little more about her, I found her website, and from the looks of it we should be seeing a new novella from her in Analog in the coming months. If it is as interesting as this short story, it will be something to look forward to.
Turning it off follows a family in a future where man has created technology to protect humans from harm. We see a logical extension of the incredible networking and information flow we are beginning to experience now, but the technology at the center of the story are “safeties” – devices that can be installed on anything to prevent harm of any kind. As a side effect, they also dampen emotional reactions, meaning that they must be turned off if you want to have sex. Some people are even starting to turn them off to experience the thrill of danger – and that mindset is at the center of this story.
Turning it Off was very creative and a good read. I am looking forward to seeing more from Forest.
Sam Tomaino: Two teenagers in the future try “Turning It Off” in the story by Susan Forest. The ‘It’ is what is called a safety which not only protects them from harm but any kind of sensation. As teenagers might do, they turn off each of their safeties and get into trouble. They don’t learn from this trouble in this amusing tale.
TPI’s Reading Diary
Everything has “safeties” which prevent practically all sorts of accidents. Even people have safety systems which prevent accidents by falls etc. But they also dampen the sensitivity of skin. Two teenagers find a way to turn off their safety systems and experiment a little. A fairly good story, could have been slightly longer. ***+