Birthday Reviews: Pat Cadigan’s “New Life for Old”

Birthday Reviews: Pat Cadigan’s “New Life for Old”

Cover by Maren
Cover by Maren

Pat Cadigan was born on September 10, 1953.

Cadigan won a Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2013 for “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi,” which has also won a Seiun Award. She previously won a World Fantasy Award in the Non-Professional category for co-editing the fanzine Shayol with Arnie Fenner. She won two Arthur C. Clarke Awards for her novels Synners and Fools. In 1979 her story “Death from Exposure” won the coveted Balrog Award. In 2006 Cadigan received the third (and most recent) Richard Evans Memorial Prize, given to genre authors who were considered insufficiently recognized for their excellence. Cadidgan served as the Toastmaster for MidAmericon II, the 2016 Worldcon in Kansas City.

Disney’s animated film Aladdin was released in 1992 and to take advantage of the popularity of the film, Mike Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg edited the 1992 anthology Aladdin: Master of the Lamp, with stories based on genies, djinni, and the 1001 nights. Pat Cadigan’s story “New Life for Old” made its debut in the anthology. The following year, Cadigan included the story in her collection Dirty Work and in 1996 it was translated into French for Cadigan’s anthology Les garçons sous la pluie.

Cadigan’s djinn appears to 70-year-old Millie as she is polishing a family heirloom, a lamp that dates back to the family’s origins in the Middle East. Millie greets the djinn’s appearance with skepticism, based on her life experience and the drink she took that afternoon, although she doubts it is enough to get her that tipsy. The djinn does, however, make her an offer of one day of youth. If she turns it down, he’ll remove all memory of their meeting. Naturally, she takes him up on the offer and lives out a life of her youth.

Millie and the djinn reconnect after her day and she tells him all about it, reveling in what she was able to do and how she felt. However the experience wasn’t all she had hoped for and she realizes that a better, and more useful experience would have been to live a day as an old woman when she was younger. That way, she would better enjoy what she had rather than just one day that was wistful and nostalgic even as she was enjoying herself. Cadigan’s story is a quick tale that presents not only the good feelings that nostalgia can bring, but also a sense of the regrets and the difference in the view of someone young and someone older.

Reviewed in its original appearance in the anthology Aladdin: Master of the Lamp, edited by Mike Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg, DAW Books, 1992.

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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Seems that DAW’s art director was totally cool with Ming the Merciless straight from the movie poster…

[…] Steven H Silver joined in saluting the day at Black Gate with “Birthday Reviews: Pat Cadigan’s ‘New Life for Old’”. […]

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