“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)
Creative Commons

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“Salvage” by Carrie Vaughn

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 2, 2014 in Reviews

Lightspeed, June 2014 (Women Destroy Science Fiction Issue)
http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/salvage/
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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“Space Travel Loses its Allure When You’ve Lost Your Moon Cup” by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 1, 2014 in Reviews

Crossed Genres, July 2014 (Issue 19)
http://crossedgenres.com/magazine/019-space-travel-loses-its-allure/
Author Website: http://www.intrigue.co.uk/

 

Short Women in Space, Review #1

So, yeah, periods in space. Might as well go there on this first review, right? Let’s take a quick peek at the opening:

Zero G and three light years from the nearest drugstore is a shitty time to realize that you left your spare moon cup at the space station.

Tonight I lost mine to the relief tube. The stuffy musk-and-lemon smell of the hold was invaded by the sharp tang of blood. I was half-asleep, trying to empty it without fuss in the dark. The relief tube suction was just strong enough to whisk the cup out of my still-asleep slick fingers.

There you go, big time problem is introduced right there in the first two paragraphs, accompanied by the perfect amount of sensory detail to pull me in. I can almost feel the moon cup (apparently already a thing) slip from my own fingers, down the chute of the space toilet, and into oblivion.

In that split moment, her fun, care-free, seven-month voyage to Barnard’s Star becomes a bloody nightmare. Cargo space is too precious to allow for storage of bulky feminine products, so she is forced to improvise. Oh my goodness, I could feel for her. Sylvia does an exquisite job of painting the desperation of this woman in so few words. Half of the audience can immediately relate. We’ve been there. Maybe not caught out in the desolation of space, but when you’re unprepared, it doesn’t matter much if the nearest drugstore is a seven blocks away or seven light years.

Overall, this was a quick, fun read, and if you’re further interested in the logistics of menstruation in zero gravity, check out The Straight Dope. Apparently, it’s no big thing, just as it is for the most part here on Earth. If you’re already crapping in peeing in a big diaper, seriously, what’s one more bodily fluid? Ick. No wonder we never saw any restrooms on Star Trek.



 

 

Valentina Tereshkova, First Woman in Space

REAL Women in Space Valentina Tereshkova
First Woman in Space
Vostok 6 (Jun. 16, 1963)
Creative Commons

 

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