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Literature / This Other World

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This Other World is a science fiction novella by A. C. Buchanan, originally published in Winter Well and later self-published.

Vonika is a middle-aged autistic woman who moved from Earth to the city-state Temia on the planet Kami after her son Jak reached adulthood. Now, as a successful architectural engineer happily married to the Temian woman Tehya, she has found the happiness and belonging she never could on Earth.

As Vonika approaches old age, she is expected to undergo Ha-Ran, in which she will become telepathically connected to the other older adults. She starts to experience bursts of telepathic perception, even though she hasn't started Ha-Ran, and even though she's very uneasy about the change in her life it will bring. In addition, war threatens with the neighboring country Makka, and Vonika finds herself acting as a peace emissary.


This Other World contains examples of:

  • Driven to Suicide: Bar-temah drinks poison before the destruction of Temia.
  • First Friend: Vonika didn't manage to make a friend until she was ten.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Bar-temah is an immigrant from Earth, like Vonika. He insists he's completely assimilated and is a true Temian at heart, but his attempts at fitting in are so aggressive and tacky that he mostly ends up alienating people. Vonika finds him annoying, but she finds herself spending time with him anyway because of their shared background.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: An accidental example. When Vonika tries to retrieve a gas canister hidden high above the street, she knocks it loose and falls on top of it. She's badly injured, but her body stops most of the gas from escaping.
  • Land of One City: Temia. Makka used to be one, too, before it joined forces with several other localities and then started expanding.
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  • Longevity Treatment: These allow humans to live up to two hundred years. Vonika is unsure about undergoing the treatment, although she suspects she'll go through with it once mortality is staring her in the face. Tehya consents for her to go through it after she's badly injured, since the enhancements will speed up the healing process.
  • Office Romance: Tehya and Vonika were work partners before they were life partners.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Vonika never reassures Jak. When she tells him that the rumors of conflict with Makka are "nothing," he's very surprised.
  • Sensory Overload: Vonika becomes overwhelmed by the bright colors on people's clothes during the ceremony that starts Ha-Ran.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Younger people dress in dark, somber colors, while people who've gone through Ha-Ran wear bright, patterned outfits to signify the complexity of communal living.
  • Starting a New Life: Vonika has moved and severed almost all ties to her old life twice, first as a young woman following a scholarship for graduate studies, then after Jak grew up and moved to Europe. She has fleeting thoughts of doing it a third time because of Ha-Ran.
  • Water Source Tampering: Bar-temah has been putting the drugs that start Ha-Ran in the water supply in an attempt to stave off war with Makka by forcing people to empathize with each other. It backfires horribly - the tampering is discovered, Makka is blamed, and war breaks out.