“The Things They Were Not Allowed to Carry” by Helena Leigh Bell

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 4, 2014 in Writer's Life |

Daily Science Fiction, June 2014
http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/space-travel/helena-leigh-bell/the-things-they-were-not-allowed-to-carry
Author Website:  http://www.nuetcreations.com/blog/

 

Short Women in Space, Review #4

This neat little piece teeters between realism and surrealism as a group of interstellar travelers make their way to a new planet over the course of 50 years. Space is limited aboard the ship, and there is no room for non-necessities. Even very small and precious things get left behind. Obviously Martha’s grandmother’s piano cannot make the trip, and also Charles’s 1971 Corvette, but then the list of things they cannot bring goes sideways:

Tangible and intangible things, real and imagined were petitioned and overruled. Geologists Staebler and Garcia wanted to bring the smell of dirt roads after a thunderstorm. No one can carry this, it was decided. We will leave it behind.

Mementos and even memories are an anchor tying the voyagers back to their old life, back to Earth. They are best cast aside, but it is not an easy task to strip oneself of the past. The children aboard have much less baggage and are able to drop their ties to materialism and their old home. They even give up basic necessities such as clothing and bathing, figuring the ship never bathes, so why should they? As a result, in the uncomfortably close quarters of the ship, a cultural rift forms between young and old.

This story is a great account of the mental toll of long-term space travel. I enjoyed the sensory elements, as well as, being drawn along on this journey, slowly coming to the realizations of why history must be left in the past, and how that changes us as a people. It’s difficult to pull this off in a piece of short fiction, but Helena definitely delivers, so give it a read!



Kathryn C. Thornton First woman to make multiple spacewalks

REAL Women in Space
Kathryn C. Thornton
First woman to make multiple spacewalks (May 14–15, 1992, Dec. 6, 1993, Dec. 8, 1993)
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