The Lonely Sea in the Sky by Amal El-Mohtar is arranged in a mixture of short journal entries with interspersed news and other reports. Chronicling her presumed mental disorder called Meisner’s Syndrome aka. Adamancy the protagonist, a planetary geologist named Leila Ghufran who is isolated in a subterranean site to help her recover, journals her thoughts on her treatment as well as the surrounding circumstances which led to her being in this situation. As her disorder seems to apparently worsen the short interludes of news and scientific reports offer a glimpse into a world, in which teleportation is made possible by the discovery of a liquid Diamond-like substance dubbed “Lucyite“ which can be extracted from the high pressure high temperature seas of Neptune.
Transport, commerce and thus society have been revolutionized by this discovery and on the surface Earth seems to be a better off for it. Slowly it is uncovered that Lucyite might be a living, maybe even sentient being and voices advocating to stop using the Melee (the transportation network devised from the use of Lucyite) are labeled as to be delusional or in more extrem cases terrorist propaganda. Adamancy in the end turns out to be a mental connection of a human being to the Lucyite-Network occurring by prolonged exposure to the Lucyite itself and Leila Ghufran becomes a vessel to freeing the „tortured“ Lucyite on Earth.
The structure of this short is highly engaging. The insertions of news, scientific and even reports on the discovery of the main protagonists disorder offer at first disassociated glimpses into the world our protagonist was living in and is for the term of the short isolated from. A society bent on technological progress propelled by the discovery of an almost magical substance which can be linked to past folklore and fantasy. This is deeply reflective of technological advancements from the past in which discovery has been viewed as inherently neutral even though it could be used to destroy, enslave or kill.
Whilst bending the realm of plausibility with the “quantum entanglement“ label the Melee as a device and its portrayed impact on economical and societal change is approached though different angles which make it believable concept in the world of The lonely sea in the sky. Citing poetry and lyrics align this possible world with our history and allow for allocation and extrapolation of values and behaviours from our known selves which makes it a believable and suspenseful story.