Birthday Reviews: Pat York’s “Great Leaving”

Birthday Reviews: Pat York’s “Great Leaving”

Cover by Diana Sharples
Cover by Diana Sharples

Pat York was born on August 14, 1949 and died on May 21, 2005 in a car accident.

York was nominated for the Nebula in 2001 for her short story “You Wandered Off Like a Foolish Child To Break Your Heart and Mine.”

York published “The Great Leaving” in Odyssey #2, edited by Liz Holliday, in 1998. The story has never been reprinted.

York tells the story of the days leading up to the departure of a colonizing spaceship in “The Great Leaving.” Although many of her friends, including her nominal boyfriend, are leaving on the flight, Clare refuses to even consider going because she had obligations to her mother in the small village in which they live. York makes it clear that there is no other reason for Clare to remain behind. German and Japanese investors in Ireland have made the country unrecognizable and essentially have killed off any culture or national pride the people might have been able to retain.

Despite calls for her to go on the ship, Clare refuses, remaining adamant and eventually falling back on the excuse that they are well past the deadline for her to change her mind. Of course, she also does begin to change her mind after the deadline is past, partly because of a declaration of love and commitment from Michael Hackett, the aforementioned boyfriend.

While Clare’s dedication to her mother and desire to stay and try to preserve what she can of her culture is admirable, the character is not particularly memorable, her decision understandable, but not particularly defensible. Once she does change her mind, York provides a deus ex machina which can trace back to a momentary nastiness by Clare to one of the immigrants to allow Clare to leave her mother and plan a future life with Michael.

Reviewed in its only publication the magazine Odyssey 2, edited by Liz Holliday, 1998.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium” in Galaxy’s Edge. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7. He has been the news editor for SF Site since 2002.

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Rich Horton

I was in that issue of ODYSSEY, too. Good to have a remembrance of Pat York, a talented writer gone too soon.

Lots of other interesting possibilities — Joan Slonczewski, Alexei Panshin, William Shunn, Lee Hoffman.

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