Lis Carey Review: John Wiswell’s “D.I.Y.”

“D.I.Y.” by John Wiswell
Tor Books, ISBN 009781250870209, August 2022

Review By Lis Carey: The opening of this story does not bring us to a happy world. Climate change has had a major impact, most strongly felt in the heat and the shortage of potable water.

The tech that’s involved here, though, includes magic. The companies expected to address the problem are the great magic academies, among them Ozymandias Academy, where once upon a time, a young man named Noah hoped to become a student. When he’s finally accepted, though, it’s without any financial aid, and his mother, struggling just to support the two of them, has no money. Noah, being a bright young man, puts the blame where it belongs, and in some ways, that sets up later events.

Noah meets up with a podcaster, who goes by MX_POTLUCK, or, to friends, simply “Manny.” Both shut out of any serious magical training, they do their own research and experimentation, including coax water out of the air into glasses. The amounts are small, but it’s a start. They proceed to build on their start, especially as Ozymandia Academy gets more control of the limited water supply, and gets more restrictive, and more elitist, in its distribution of water.

But both Noah and Manny have serious health problems, and when they make a real breakthrough, it coincides with Manny having a major health crisis.

I’ll just say that these are two tough, clever, young men with integrity. This is a more hopeful story than “Rabbit Test,” and I enjoyed it. Sadly, while I think it deserves its nomination, I think “Rabbit Test,” which I will never voluntarily reread, really is the better work.

I received this story as part of the 2023 Hugo Voters Packet.

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9 thoughts on “Lis Carey Review: John Wiswell’s “D.I.Y.”

  1. This turns out to be available to read on the site. Very disappointing! EvilCorp is defeated by a trope so old that I’m not even sure it would count as a spoiler if I mentioned it here. Hint: When RAH used it, he later changed the name of the actress it mentions.

  2. I’ve got no problem with you not liking the story.

    However, I’m puzzled about the significance of RAH having changed the name of a character in his story.

  3. @Lis: It’s a hint as to which story he means – and if I’m thinking of the right story, even the title would be a spoiler for “D.I.Y.”

  4. My mind doesn’t contain a searchable database of all RAH’s stories, or those of any other author I like. Hints don’t tempt me to go hunting. They piss me off.

  5. Ah. For good or bad, my mind does have a searchable database for Heinlein, and several others. If you don’t mind rot13, and are curious, I think the story Patrick has in mind is Gurl Qb Vg Jvgu Zveebef (juvpu bevtvanyyl zragvbarq Fnyyl Enaq, ohg va yngre cevagvatf unq gung ersrerapr hcqngrq gb Orggl Tenoyr, gura Znevyla Zbaebr). I could be wrong.

    Looking forward to reading D.I.Y. anyway – so thanks for the review.

  6. Nope. I was wrong about which story; it’s actually “Yrg Gurer Or Yvtug” (a story with an actual Wikipedia page).

  7. Now that I’ve read the D.I.Y., I notice that a very recent post on this site features someone using the same trick that Patrick was referring to.

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