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When It Changed NOTES.pdf

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Mike Johnstone

Russ, "When It Changed" Reading Notes - set on the planet Whileaway, which is an exclusively female utopia on the brink of transformation - the story is deceptively simple and real - these elements startle readers into awareness of their own assumptions - Katy is the narrator's wife - she seems to be a bit of a daredevil, though does not use guns - Katy and the narrator have three children: one born from Katy and two born from the narrator - their eldest is a twelve-year-old named Yuriko - in their society children go off to hunt animals when they come of age - it seems to be a primitive society, though they have a lot of technology - starting new on a new world - they are driving to a rendezvous with the first men any of them have ever seen - "Real Earth Men" have found their planet - Whileaway is mostly steam-powered - biologists and experts are called in to confirm that these are in fact men - the narrator speaks "the old languages" from Earth - the narrator's daughter is the only child there - the men present a cognitive dissonance to the narrator: they are bigger and broader than the people she is used to, and the feel "off" in some indescribable way - they are alien - she does not feel comfortable "shaking their hands", which she sees as an alien practice - she describes them as "apes with human faces" - again, language presents a difference for the narrator--she has not had to use the words "he" or "him" before - it was six hundred years ago that the men on Whileaway died out - they use the patronymic for naming their children - Yuriko thinks that the men would have been better looking; they are completely alien to her - the narrator explains to the men that there was a plague on Whileaway - they were lucky because they had a large initial gene pool - they had advanced technology and all members of the population were extremely intelligent - but the plague wiped out half of their population in one generation - Whileaway is a society unto itself - they are at a delicate point in their history, and not ready for a large change; the narrator asks the men to "give them time" repeatedly - when the men ask where all the people are, they are really asking where all the men are - the na
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