LITERATURE: BASS 2007 – The Boy in Zaquitos

First published in Fantasy and Science Fiction, this story by Bruce McAllister would qualify as mystery, adventure as easily as sci fi.  Oddly enough, though it is written in first person pov, there is a subtitle of The Retired Operative Speaks to a Class. What this indicates to me is that the ending may be happy or sad, but the protagonist definitely is alive at the end of the story.

The concept is not new, but it is handled in a unique manner in that the narrator is supposedly a good guy whose patriotism leads him to accept a government position that involves germ warfare.  It’s a rather dry and factual accounting of his job performance, as one would expect of anyone in this line of work.  There is the conflict not of the danger he holds within his responsibility, nor of getting caught or endangering himself or his family.  The conflict switches from man against society to man against his own nature, again, not that odd considering the topic.

There’s a low-key resolution in his leaving this line of work after a spasm of conscience leads him to save a small boy and his family in a small village where he is scheduled to do his thing.  But there is a lack of drama in the retelling, and the story comes off with that vague sense of otherworldliness that one gets when listening to someone relate life experiences that are so foreign to our own lives.

Interesting premise, handled in an interesting way.

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