Four Centuries of Mormon Stories Contest: “Waiting”

Today at Segullah we have been given the opportunity to host the discussion for the final short story in the Four Centuries of Mormon Stories Contest created by the Everyday Mormon Writer. For the last two weeks, the site has been posting a short story per day for discussion (you can read the rest of the contest entries here–take time to do it because there are some real gems in there).

Today’s short story, titled “Waiting” by Katherine Cowley, takes issues familiar to Latter-day Saint women and transports them far into the future. Click here to go read the story, then come back to Segullah to discuss. We’ve created a few questions for discussion, but you can say anything you would like about the story.

1. Does the futuristic setting make it harder or easier for you to identify with the protagonist?

2.Do you think that even though technology changes, people are still essentially the same, or do different ways of interaction affect the ways we view others? If we could get together with women from 200 years ago, would we really relate to each other? What if we were to get together with the women in this story?

3. What times in your life have you found yourself ‘waiting’? If you were Jayla’s visiting teacher, what would you do for her or say to her?

16 thoughts on “Four Centuries of Mormon Stories Contest: “Waiting”

  1. The moment where all the boys turned most of the holograms off was very relatable.

    And I liked the quadruple (quintuple, maybe?) meaning of the story title.

  2. More good Mormon sci-fi.

    I dig the desperation and pretence–and the resignation and resolve. And the uncertainty and determination. And the budget keeping-up-with-the-Joneses.

  3. I too loved that the kids turned off the holograms. My very favorite part of this (and I think most insightful glimpse into what things are fundamental to being a human) was that the house was a mess. Some things really are timeless!

  4. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but I enjoyed this more than the other stories set in the far future. I think because the dilemmas in it are quite universal–everyone has always had to wait for something at some point in her life, and we all want to appear more capable than we really are.

  5. .

    If this weren’t science fiction we would all still immediately connect to Jayla and her circumstances. So what additional benefits come from the time period? Because I feel it does provide enhancements, but I’m not sure I can articulate just what.

  6. It’s what Scott Hales said about “The Defection of Baby Mixo”: distance. It’s funnier and more recognizable because it’s far away. “Release” and “Avek, Who Is Distributed” worked the same way for me. Not necessarily funny, but recognizable, a reminder and a caution. Masked mimicry.

  7. I think the desperation is what I most identified with in this piece. I think we’ve all been at that place, where we are just waiting for our trials to end. I loved how the kids like to throw things through people. My kid enjoys jumping on them.

  8. I liked the portrayal of faith. She was a bit impatient that the Savior wasn’t there yet, but despite the temptation to look right and turn off the scripture reading, she dutifully looked left and read. Then she chose to be on her feet.

  9. I adore sci-fi, so the futuristic setting was fun and very welcome.

    I think technology is readily accepted into society, and society will use it to its own ends. I’m sure if we met sisters from 200 years ago they would be just as delighted and utilising of email and mobile phones as we would be with their socialising skills and know-how. And I’m positive that those from years ago and in the future would be just as awful at waiting as I am!

  10. Yes, I do think the story does show the persistence of traits we see in ourselves today: impish kids, putting up a facade of control, and secretly (or not so secretly) waiting to be rescued. The protagonist wants some miraculous help but is resistant to the more mundane vehicles of assistance. And because this is set in the future, it may be cautioning us against hoping that some divine force is going to rescue us from day-to-day hardships. The story shows that people in the future still struggle with all-too-human conflicts, even amid some pretty cool high-tech devices. But these toys don’t erase the troubles; they just give us more complex ways of addressing them (and another set of tools for kids to manipulate). Relatable, fun, and asking some good questions about why people yearn for things beyond their current circumstances.

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