I’m not usually a fan of short stories, in fact, I’m usually anything but. However, having read through a lot of John Scalzi’s other material, when I came across this short story, I figured I had nothing to lose.
So even though this is a mere 50 pages long, I’m going to do a review because, it’s John Scalzi and, of course, The President’s Brain is Missing.After a routine medical scan reveals the President’s brain had gone missing, apparently without the President being any worse for wear, Chief of Staff Alexander Lipsyte is put on the job of finding out what happened, hopefully before the President drops dead or does something even more stupid than usual. But is it aliens? Russians? Does it really matter if the President gets his brain back at all?
This is actually a cute little story, told with typical Scalzi aplomb and just a little satirical skill. He explores all of the typical sci-fi tropes, from alien brain abductions to Star Trek transporters until he stumbles onto the truth, a truth that makes much more sense in retrospect than the President lacking any grey matter, yet still breathing. I’ll leave it to you to read the story and discover what actually happened.
I did, unfortunately, catch one technical gaffe that’s pretty significant in retrospect. Initially, the President thought something was wrong when he was unable to submerge his head in the White House swimming pool, it’s what led him to seek out medical attention in the first place. Of course, a day later, as Alexander had just discovered the truth, apparently the President woke up feeling great, went through all of his usual morning routines, which must have included his traditional morning swim… did he not have the same problem? If not, why not? If so, why didn’t it bother him? He’s described as not being particularly bright, but it really makes no sense in the context of the story for him to suffer the same odd malady and still go on about his normal activities. It’s a minor thing but still a thing I noticed.
Anyhow, I really did like this particular story, probably because it was 50 pages long. A lot of really short micro-stories never do anything for me, there just isn’t enough substance to the story to get me interested and keep me intrigued, I always feel like I’m missing something and every time I try to write short fiction, I keep adding things to the story and eventually want to turn it into a full novel. I’m just not cut out to think that way, I guess. But Scalzi is, at least in this particular case and the story kept me chuckling most of the way through, which I assume was the whole point.
So go read it for yourself. It isn’t a huge time commitment, I read it in a single sitting and was thoroughly entertained. It can’t hurt and you might learn a thing or two. So off with you.