It is evident that this story is written during and inspired by the COVID19-pandemic, but it is not about a new pandemic. Rather the existence of vaccines that can cure basically everything, is used as a vehicle for a thoughtful story that is both small and large in scope.

Make Shift: Dispatches from the Post-Pandemic Future, edited by Gideon Lichfield

I would guess the setting to be about 40 years in the future, where very effective vaccines are released every year. Thus forming the term “vaccine season”. However, these vaccines works like viruses themselves in that they can spread through the population without direct injection. This is generally presented as a positive thing, though it does acknowledge that there is some ethical complicated questions of consent.

All this is background information, as the actual story is simply a boy visiting his grandfather and he really wants his grandfather to get the latest vaccine that would make one practically immortal. The grandfather having lived through some tough years in his life is not interested, even though he acknowledges and respects his grandson for his utopian views of the future.

What makes this story interesting is the thoughts on ethics it provokes. I am not entirely sure what the authors intention is with how this little family drama ends, and I don’t think I agree with what happens, but it was none the less an interesting sombre little short story. Easy to relate to the grandfather as he is probably from my generation in this future, and it allows for some reflection on how to tackle future prospects and the challenges that might lay ahead.

Read in The Best Science Fiction of the Year - Volume 7, edited by Neil Clarke
Originally published in Make Shift: Dispatches from the Post-Pandemic Future, edited by Gideon Lichfield
Rating: 4