A quick note about “Something in the Rain”

Last week I posted a review of the autistic stories in Defying Doomsday. I listed Seanan McGuire’s “Something in the Rain” as one of these stories, saying that its protagonist was autistic and schizophrenic.

Seanan McGuire very politely corrected me on Twitter and said that the protagonist has OCD (which Seanan shares), not autism.

I was mortified to have gotten it wrong and quickly fixed the post, crossing out the text of that review. I couldn’t believe I had been so sure that autism was there in the story when it wasn’t.

A commenter pointed out, a few days later, that the text of “Something in the Rain” does explicitly say the protagonist was autistic. I looked back into my copy and found that this is, in fact, the case:

I didn’t have a muscular disorder; physically, there was nothing about me that deviated from what was considered “normal” for a seventeen-year-old girl. I had mild schizophrenia, for which I was medicated, and autism, for which I was not medicated, but that only changed the way I thought, not the way I moved.

I’m not sure exactly what happened here, but probably Seanan misremembered by accident. (Which is ok! There are many reasons why a busy and prolific author might misremember details of some of their stories.)

However, I think it’s more important to respond to what a story actually says than what the author says about it, so I’m going to be restoring the review to its original condition, restoring the protagonist to the list of autistic protagonists, and putting a link in to this post as explanation.

Apologies for any confusion over this one.

Autistic Book Party, Episode 27: Defying Doomsday

I’m going to be doing something a little different today, reviewing an anthology – Short Story Smorgasbord-style – rather than a novel.

The stories in “Defying Doomsday” revolve around a deceptively simple question: what happens to disabled people when civilization ends? Post-apocalyptic literature too often either assumes that we will die – that an apocalypse reduces humanity to “survival of the fittest”, and that disabled people are by definition unfit – or forgets to chart our place in the narrative at all. “Defying Doomsday” consciously takes a different view, showing us disabled people’s stories in the apocalypse, centering their humanity and their desire to survive, even if the ability to do so is in doubt (and while it’s dire for everyone, it’s not always as dire for disabled people as one might assume).

The whole anthology covers a broad spectrum of different disabilities and is well worth a read, even though the grim subject matter can sometimes make it a difficult one. Four stories in the anthology involve autistic characters and/or authors, so here at Autistic Book Party we will review the book by taking a closer look at these four.


Corinne Duyvis, “And the Rest of Us Wait” (Defying Doomsday, May 2016)

[Autistic author] Set in the same apocalyptic Netherlands as “On the Edge of Gone“, this story focuses on a different main character – not an autistic girl like Denise, but a refugee singer with spina bifida, whose name is Iveta. Unlike Denise, Iveta makes it to a temporary shelter, but things at the shelter start to go wrong, including a permanent loss of electrical power. The plot is less complex than the plot of the novel, but if anything, the ableism of people around Iveta and her uncertainty about her future are depicted with an even more brutal honesty. Iveta truly doesn’t know if she’ll survive, but she fiercely self-advocates and holds on to her humanity throughout. [Recommended]


Seanan McGuire, “Something in the Rain” (Defying Doomsday, May 2016)

(ETA: For an additional note about this story, see this post.)

A grimly amusing story in which a teenage girl with autism and schizophrenia is the good guy, a manipulative neurotypical bully is the bad guy, and the bad guy gets her comeuppance in the end. It’s drawn in very broad strokes, sometimes at the expense of psychological accuracy, which will bother some readers; the remorseless means by which the protagonist resolves her problems will bother others. On the whole, though, I found it a satisfying story which is emphatically on the autistic protagonist’s side. [YMMV, but I liked it]


Rivqa Rafael, “Two Somebodies Go Hunting” (Defying Doomsday, May 2016)

A story about a boy named Jeff and his physically disabled sister, Lex. I read Jeff as autistic due to a variety of factors which may or may not have been intended that way. I felt that Jeff’s autistic traits were appropriately varied, subtle (at times), and realistic. But I could have done with a bit less focus on Lex’s annoyance with him, even though it turns out to have a non-autism-related underlying reason in the end. [YMMV]


Bogi Takács, “Given Sufficient Desparation” (Defying Doomsday)

[Autistic author] Aliens have invaded and convinced some humans to work for them at menial tasks. Both the aliens and anti-alien resistance groups are ableist, but in different ways. The protagonist has motor dyspraxia which the author shares, and which limits their ability to fit in with either group. They end up stumbling onto a third option, but even this option may raise as many problems as it solves. An interesting story underscoring what happens when neither side of a conflict makes room for everyone. [Recommended]