Sunday, September 26, 2010

TEEN SUCCESS by Jason Comer

Not my normal genre, but this sci-fi piece just slayed me.

TEEN SUCCESS is about Primo Patterson, a teenager growing up in a domed community outside of Pittsburgh. "Community" is probably the wrong word--ultra-conformist prison is more accurate.

Primo is dutifully trying to become a member of the creepy "Leadership Camp" Teen Success, as his mother so desires him to. But then his rebellious older sister, Garter, who's abandoned the domed community, comes back for the weekend and opens his eyes to the wider world. She also opens his eyes to how fucked up and artificial dome life is. Primo becomes frustrated enough with his packaged life that the two hatch a plan for him to escape.

Comer creates a believable, eerie world, which resembles a gated community on crack. And he injects a lot of humor into this perfectly rendered piece. The characters jump off the page (especially Garter, who sort of steals the show) and the ending is satisfying and inevitable. (I've been noticing that more recently--short stories need a solid ending. Otherwise they're not worth it. Novels can get away with average endings if everything else works.)

The piece was posted by Labyrinth Inhabitant at the beginning of the year. That publication has a really interesting niche--all stories about people trapped in artificial environments. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

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