Home > Recommendations > “Tideline”, by Elizabeth Bear

“Tideline”, by Elizabeth Bear

“Tideline” is the story of a damaged war robot, after an apocalyptic war that has reduced humanity to the level of hunting and gathering. This warbot, Chalcedony, is coping with the end of its life, memorializing its lost platoon, and her own status as the most civilized being in the area, since she incorporates a significant databank of human knowledge.
The world of “Tideline” is wonderfully drawn; it’s clear that a novel could come from the story of the war that lead to this point, or the events that are happening elsewhere. Bear has done a lovely job of making the short story feel like a glimpse into a larger story, rather than an independent event. She’s also made Chalcedony’s tale touching and brutal at the same time; life in this world isn’t easy, even if you’re a towering war machine.  Perhaps especially if you are; with great power comes great responsibility, after all.  Also, with haunting memories comes an obligation to honor them.

Elizabeth Bear’s website
Text of “Tideline”
Audio of “Tideline”
Originally published in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, June 2007.

Awards:  2008 Hugo Award for Best Short Story and the 2008 Theodore Sturgeon Award

Buy “Tideline” in The Year’s Best SF 25 from Amazon.com

  1. August 19, 2010 at 9:28 am

    I’ve never read any Elizabeth Bear — this sounds fascinating!

    • Steve Feldon
      August 19, 2010 at 9:48 am

      It is. Normally, I don’t reread stories, as it’s estimated that SFWA writers publish at least a thousand stories a year. “Tideline” and “Exhalation” I’ve each read/listened to at least five times.

  2. August 19, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I have that policy when it comes to sci-fi novels….

  3. Jina
    November 26, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Link to text doesn’t work. URL should be: http://www.elizabethbear.com/tideline.html

    It is a great story. Kind of a weeper if you’re a parent, though.

    • Steve Feldon
      November 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm

      Fixed. For at least the second time. WordPress doesn’t make it easy to fix links once you do it wrong; you have to remove the link entirely and re-add it. :/

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