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The interplanetary Bechdel Test

"Can't an astronaut wreak a little havoc without there being an alien involved?"

Still reading Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells, which got 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 1,115 raters. Honestly, I am not sure how it got that rating. The story was pretty good up to the point where the intrepid ship of Earth astronauts docks with the mysterious alien ship parked out in the asteroid belt and our heroine, a linguistics expert, starts up a telepathic correspondence with the ship's one remaining alien. After that, it goes dork-wad. Granted, I think that's due to the stiff, stilted way this author writes aliens.

Writing space aliens is tough to do convincingly, at least when you're writing "Earth's first contact"-type stories. One thing that made Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey series work, and James SA Corey's Expanse series work (so far) is the aliens never make an appearance. They are mysterious. You see their footprints, rather than them.

But honestly, I am searching for something that just doesn't get written very often: space exploration in which humans are venturing out and the plot is classic "man-vs-nature" (I'd even settle for classic "man-vs-man" human political stuff re: outerspace), rather than OMG!Aliens.

Not that I have anything against stories with aliens, but there is a perception out there in sci-fi land that Aliens is why people want to read about space. Which isn't always the case. Sometimes, stories about space are the story of us. Human beings.

I have the Edge of Infinity anthology in my queue. It's supposed to be about colonizing our solar system. I am also searching for similar short stories in SFF periodicals. I am hoping they're not all "our solar system, plus (butofcourse) aliens."



Oct. 24th, 2014 08:06 pm (UTC)
Gee, I think if Amazon had suggested SoF to me, I would have skipped it because of the crappy reviews. I don't mind being "left hanging" if a series is planned.