I'm not overwhelmingly fond of this story's title: "Migratory Patterns of Underground Birds." If you really think about it, it makes sense, but it's still very strange. The best classification I can come up with for this E. Catherine Tobler short story is post-apoc sci-fi. The subgenre is up for debate depending upon how deeply you look into it. It was published in the latest issue of Clarkesworld Magazine (#92).
There are very few characters in this story. Normally I don't like that in a story just over 4,300 words long; here it works. The story is focused on the lack of characters beyond anything else. In fact, the main goal of the protagonist is to find other people. The characters that are there are pretty good. We get a limited view, as it's first-person and devoid of dialogue, but what the narrator's view is smooth enough to keep the story going.
At first I didn't think this story had much plot. After thinking about it for a while I realized that it actually has a very traditional plot. There are even two try-fail cycles before the resolution. I'm not sure what that says about the story, whether the plot was too thin or perfectly fine.
I don't read a lot of stories from this sort of setting, so to me it was somewhat refreshing. If you read a lot of post-apoc it may bore you a bit. In any case, it ties into plot and character perfectly, which is a major plus.
This story ties plot, setting, and character in a decent bow through conflict. It has a few weak points as far as language and such goes, albeit none to a crippling degree. If I had realized what was going on with the plot as I read and not several hours later I may have really enjoyed it. As it were, the story is most certainly worth reading for sci-fi fans and somewhat worth reading for everyone else.
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