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Please Stop Murdering Grandma

Christine Amsden is the author of nine award-winning fantasy and science fiction novels, including the Cassie Scot Series.

Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but Christine believes great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. She writes primarily about people, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

In addition to writing, Christine is a freelance editor and political activist. Disability advocacy is of particular interest to her; she has a rare genetic eye condition called Stargardt Macular Degeneration and has been legally blind since the age of eighteen. In her free time, she enjoys role playing, board games, and a good cup of tea. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and two kids.

My Dearest Susie,
What a delightful surprise to receive your letter in the mail! When my secretary handed it to me, I confess I did not know what to think. You are the first of my granddaughters to ever send me a letter (no, Dear, email does not count), and it simply swelled my heart to read it.
I have now read the letter several times and am enclosing my editorial notes. Aside from your atrocious penmanship and spelling, I must point out that commas can save lives. For example:
Let's eat Grandma.
Let's eat, Grandma.
As I have no desire to be cannibalized, I hope you will work harder in future to ensure you place your commas in the correct location. Although I suppose it is not entirely your fault. The state of education these days is simply appalling. When I was a young lady, we got a sharp slap with a ruler for making a mistake; now, you get safe spaces. Did you see how I used the semi-colon there? (Perhaps that's a lesson for another time.)
In your next letter, I want you to focus on proper comma usage. To facilitate this, I offer the following motivation: Every time you misuse a comma, I will put down one of my clones. So you see? You will literally be killing grandma with every careless mistake.
Please do write again soon, or I will continue putting down my unauthorized clones on principle. Give my best to your moms, and do ask them to stop hiding from me. I know exactly where they are at all times thanks to the tracking devices embedded in their skulls.
All my love,
Dear Grandma,
First, its, Zuzu (they/them), not, Susie, and, I hope, I am, putting, enough, commas, in.
Mom, and Mum, know, about, the trackers. Its, why, they, are, not with, me, or, the rebellion. You, can't, find you're, unauthorised clones, that way.
If commas, were, the bigest, problem, you, saw in, my letter, you, will soon, loose, your throne. You can, not keep, acting like, its the 20th century. Alots, changed, in 300, years. But you, stay, the, same. New clone, same memories.
But Mom, and Mum, escaped. Made me. Razing, me, in 2256. Not 1956. They, think, you, are, evil. But I, came, from you, and I, am, not, evil.
I want, to, save, you. I, will, turn, myself in, and, let, you, chip me, but, you, have, to, do, one, thing, first.
Please stop murdering, Grandma!
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, August 25th, 2022

Author Comments

I wrote "Please Stop Murdering Grandma" for the Codex Writer's Group annual Weekend Warrior contest. Five weekends. Five prompts. Five stories. But this was my favorite. As a freelance content editor, I had fun with the first letter expressing the importance of correct comma use, but as an author who believes strong characters and relationships are the most important part of fiction, I relished weaponizing those commas to make the bigger point about what's really important.

- Christine Amsden
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