Short Take: “You Have Arrived at Your Destination,” Amor Towles

Pros: A bizarre look at the future of engineering offspring
Cons: The ending
Rating: 4 out of 5

Amor Towles’s novella You Have Arrived at Your Destination (Forward collection) is the next book in Amazon’s Forward Collection. It’s a tale about Sam and Annie, who want to use the most high-tech fertility clinic ever, Vitek. Vitek advertises that they don’t let you select individual traits–they let you select the “contours” of your child’s intelligence and temperament, based on your own background, your genetic traits, and wide-ranging data analysis of how children are born and raised. Annie has narrowed the profiles down to three possibilities, and Sam visits Vitek to watch three short films detailing the expected general three-act arc of their lives. Each child appears to encounter difficulty. One is too nice and gets taken advantage of. One has a hard time of things but becomes a best-selling author. And the third is an asshole, but eventually learns the error of his ways. Sam thinks he begins to see a pattern, and starts to believe that certain details are a negative commentary on how Annie views him.

I absolutely loved most of this story. The films are intriguing. Vitek’s representative, HT Owens, has some fascinating theories about the three-act structure of a life, and what makes it worthwhile or not. Toward the end, some notions come into play that hint at so much more going on… only to stop suddenly without (I felt) sufficient resolution. I wanted another handful of pages, and felt like this story ended prematurely. It’s frustrating to have such an interesting story pull up short at the end!

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