“Salvage” by Carrie Vaughn

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 2, 2014 in Reviews

Lightspeed, June 2014 (Women Destroy Science Fiction Issue)
Author Website: carrievaughn.com


Short Women in Space, Review #2

No one knows what went wrong with Radigund, a small survey ship–dead and adrift between stars, but curiosity and unspoken fears lead a small away crew to discover the truths aboard. Interpersonal relations weigh heavily in this piece, keeping the reader emotionally tethered while the characters are literally adrift in a husk of a ship, that itself is adrift in the vast nothingness of space. Whether or not they find what they are looking for, the nature of the salvage mission promises to be a haunting one.

Dark Nebula

Nebula image by s58y, creative commons

This seems like an emotional story with a simple plot, set against the backdrop of space. It could just as easily been set on Earth aboard a couple of frigates. That isn’t to say that the science fiction elements are not well-written, or that the atmosphere (or lack there of) doesn’t draw me in, but if you can take the science fiction out of a story and it still works, is it really science fiction?

According to Christie Yant, Guest Editor of Women Destroy Science Fiction (of which this story was a part):

These are different strokes from the same brush: the belief that only one kind of science fiction—rocket ships, robots, extra-planetary adventures—is the “real” kind. Lightspeed has always rejected the narrow definition. Science fiction, like everything else, has changed over time. It has expanded and altered, just as those reading and writing it have.

So perhaps this is a science fiction story, set against the universal backdrop of grief and fear of the unknown, and the stresses it puts upon those that find themselves forced to face it head on. There is no glamor to this story. This is the grit of space. This is a story of what happens when going boldly goes wrong, and the wounds and healing that take place in its wake.

Eileen Collins First female shuttle pilot and shuttle commander

REAL Women in Space
Eileen Collins
First female shuttle pilot
STS-63 (Feb. 3, 1995)
First female shuttle commander
STS-93 (Jul. 23, 1999)
Creative Commons


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