Sunday Short: Jennifer Pelland's Captive Girl

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This week's short was Jennifer Pelland's Captive Girl, published in Helix magazine.

Monkey Head Nebula, viewed by the Hubble Telescope
Honestly, this story was a little bit outside of my comfort zone. It tells the story of one girl, Alice, who 'volunteered' to be hooked up to a surveillance system on humankind's first extra-solar colony. Ten years previously, the colony had been attacked by unknown assailants who then vanished. The program involved blinding, deafening, and crippling the subjects used in the program so that the implants could work. The implants could only work with a juvenile mind.

We first meet Alice as she is out of body surveying the space around the planet.

I found the idea of a mind out of body interesting, and the fact that there were sacrifices to make it so (essentially crippling the user) interesting as well. The delving into the consequences of those sacrifices (especially when the program was discontinued and Alice underwent surgery to repair all the damage) was the most interesting to me. I would have been interested to see more of Alice and Jayna as roommates after everything that happened to them.

But I did not like the idea of it being done only on adolescent girls. And the whole subplot of the caretaker Marika (and it's concluson) had an ick factor to me. The subplot's ending was unsatisfying as well (love = suffering through old traumas?). 

Overall, this short had some really interesting ideas, but it wasn't a favorite of mine. If you are a fan of this story or the idea of extra computerized perception out of body, you might like the award winning* novel by Ann Leckie -- Ancillary Justice. This novel is told from the perspective of Breq -- who was an AI in control of a whole ship, battle contingent... etc. It is an interesting narrator to say the least! 

What award, you ask? Pretty much all! 2014 Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. 

Rating: 2.5/5

Favorite line: In the choreographed chaos of space, she searches for patterns that do not fit. She listens to the hiss and murmur of the interstellar winds; she peers into the visible spectrum and beyond. Whistling particles stream by, and her mind sizes them up, then discards them as harmless background radiation. Just flotsam on the solar winds. 

Next week, I'll review the short Marie Brennan's Mad Maudlin, published in

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