Review: “The Surgical Option” by Gustavo Bondoni

Reviewed by Stephen Cashmore
Well, this story is all very much a matter of taste. Let me explain. The Surgical Option is all about a meeting between members of different species, set a long time in the future. And the purpose of the meeting is to hear complaints against humanity which, it seems, has done nothing to further galactic harmony but instead has provided waves of “sleazy lawyers”. The story doesn’t really tell a story – it is rather a series of jokes based on the different imaginary traits of other species, and the ways in which man has exploited them. Many of the jokes are quite visual.

The whole thing is quite well written and the dialogue (of which there is a lot, given that it’s a meeting) isn’t bad either. There’s not really a plot, more a series of jokes and a bit of a punchline at the end. Now here’s the rub. I can see some people rolling in the aisles, tears streaming out of their eyes, thinking that The Surgical Option is the funniest thing since sliced bread (not that sliced bread is funny, but you know what I mean). On the other hand I can see others reading it with not the trace of expression, with no flicker of amusement on their stony faces. Me? I’m somewhere in between. I chuckled at some of the gags, but I have seen this sort of thing before and it’s not something I would now read from choice.

That’s the trouble with humour. Very few writers have the knack of making it work for the majority of readers. So, I can hear you wondering whether I would recommend this for an anthology. Hmm. Hmm. I think the answer is yes, if you are deliberately trying to collate stories with humour as their central theme. But if you are not, then you would probably find some other story meets your needs better.

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