by Hal Y. Zhang
Published as part of Futures: Science Fiction Series
The story follows Ellery Lang, whose mother Valerie has abruptly left their home after several days of spouting increasingly strange conspiracy theories. In a near future world where citizens are always watched and where “personalization” is part of every day life, Valerie has managed to stay in an era long gone. This makes her a mystery to Ellery, who realizes how little she actually knows about her, and the search for her stirs up painful childhood memories that Ellery can now choose to erase.
Hard Mother, Spider Mother, Soft Mother is a story about the imprecise nature of memories and how they affect our relationships.
“In this unexpected sci-fi tale, set in a not-too-futuristic surveillance state, Hal Y. Zhang renders Chinese mother-daughter relationships with tenderness and empathy. Come for the brain-eating fungal infections, stay for the insights on generational losses and memory.” —Ling Ma, author of Severance
Hal Y. Zhang is an international transplant and former physicist who writes science, science fiction, and fiction, in no particular order. Her prose and poetry have appeared in publications such as Uncanny, Strange Horizons, and Fireside. She splits her time between the East Coast and the Internet.