A to Z Review: “Bit by Bit,” by Karina Fabian

A to Z Review: “Bit by Bit,” by Karina Fabian

A to Z Reviews

Karina Fabian published “Bit by Bit” in Daily Science Fiction in January, 2011 and it was subsequently reprinted in their massive first year’s collection, Not Just Rockets and Robots.

A root canal is bad enough, but it becomes even worse of Sally when the dentist’s drill broke off in her tooth. Rather than attempt to extract the broken off drill bit, the dentist elected to leave it inside the tooth (this is not recommended practice by the ADA). Almost immediately, Sally began hearing chirping sounds, which she understood to be an alien language.

Unable to understand what the aliens may have been saying, but understanding that the constant noise was annoying her and making life difficult, Sally attempted to have the drill bit removed, a procedure which was denied by her insurance company. Joining the aluminum hat brigade as a method to stop the signals from reaching her tooth, Sally found her job as a barista in jeopardy.

Cover by Tais Teng

A customer noticed her rhythmic tapping of the chirps that she was hearing and offered her not only the solution to what she was going through, although he couldn’t stop the alien language from coming through, but also offered her the chance of a social life.

“Bit by Bit” is a slight story, but Sally’s dilemma comes alive, even if it is, at times, written humorously. The story’s ending is a positive note that even the worst annoyances can have an unexpected upside.

In only a short amount of space, Fabian creates a character the reader is rooting for, not just to resolve her issue with the embedded drill bit, but also the issues it creates for her at work and when she faces the opportunity to get together with someone who takes her seriously. Although the story is almost a shaggy dog story, it has heart and doesn’t devolve into the setup for a pun.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a twenty-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 eight years. He has also edited books for DAW, NESFA Press, and ZNB. His most recent anthology is Alternate Peace and his novel After Hastings was published in 2020. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference six times. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

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K. Jespersen

Added to the TBR. The notion of what positives may come of the situation intrigues.

William H. Stoddard

“Rooting for”? Now that merits a heartfelt groan!

Rich Horton

A slight story, to be sure, but rather sweet.

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