[Doctorow-L] "The Canadian Miracle, " a story set in the world of "The Lost Cause"

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Wed Nov 1 09:39:33 EDT 2023

“The Canadian Miracle” is a short story published today by Tor.com; it’s set in the world of The Lost Cause, my forthcoming Tor Books novel:


I’m serializing it on my podcast! Here’s part one:


* * *

Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.

— Fred Rogers (1986)

It’s a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud.

— Bing Crosby (1927)

I arrived in Oxford with the first wave of Blue Helmets, choppered in along with our gear, touching down on a hospital roof, both so that our doctors and nurses could get straight to work, and because it was one of the few buildings left with a helipad and backup generators and its own water filtration.

Humping my bag down the stairs to the waterlogged ground levels was a nightmare, even by Calgary standards. People lay on the stairs, sick and injured, and navigating them without stepping on them was like an endless nightmare of near-falls and weak moans from people too weak to curse me. I met a nurse halfway down and she took my bag from me and set it down on the landing and gave me a warm hug. “Welcome,” she said, and looked deep into my eyes. We were both young and both women but she was Black and American and I was white and Canadian. I came from a country where, for the first time in a hundred years, there was a generation that wasn’t terrified of the future. She came from a country where everybody knew they had no future.

I hugged her back and she told me my lips were cracked and ordered me to drink water and watched me do it. “This lady’s with the Canadians. They came to help,” she said to her patients on the stairs. Some of them smiled and murmured at me. Others just stared at the backs of their eyelids, reliving their traumas or tracing the contours of their pain.

“I’m Alisha,” I said.

“Elnora,” she said. She was taller than me and had to bend a little to whisper in my ear. “You take care of yourself, okay? You go out there trying to help everyone who needs it, *you’re* going to need help, too. I’ve seen it.”

“I’ve seen it, too,” I said. “Thank you. I hope you don’t mind if I give you the same advice.”

She made a comical angry face and then smiled. She looked exhausted. “That’s all right, I probably need to hear it.”

My fellow Blue Helmets had been squeezing past us, trudging down the staircase with their own bags. I shouldered mine and joined them. Elnora waved at me as I left, then bent to her next patient.

I stepped out into the wet, heavy air of the Mississippi afternoon, the languid breeze scented with sewage, rot, and smoke. My clothes were immediately saturated with water sucked out of the ambient humidity, and I could feel myself pitting out. Squinting, fumbling for my sunglasses, it took me a moment to spot the group of angry men standing by the hospital entrance. Red hats, open-carry AR-15s. It was the local Maga Club. On closer inspection, a few of them were women, and while they skewed older, there was a smattering of young adults, and, heartbreakingly, a good number of small kids, holding signs demanding foreign agitators out of mississippi!

Bekka, a Cree woman from Saskatchewan who’d been my seat buddy on the helicopter ride, leaned in. “Straight outta central casting.”

At first, I thought she was right. Weather-beaten, white, unhealthy in that way poor Americans are, lacking access to basic preventative care. They looked so angry. Plus, the guns. But there was something else there, and I couldn’t put my finger on it until I spotted a sign being held aloft by a heavyset, middle-aged guy with wraparound shades and a sweat-sheened face: our lives matter too.

I knew he meant it in a gross way, but I couldn’t argue with it.

* * *

Read the rest on Tor.com:


Or listen to it on my podcast!

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