Found by Alex Dally MacFarlane

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 7, 2014 in Reviews

Clarkesworld, August 2013
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Short Women in Space, Review # 7

In Found, a merchant peddling spices among a collection of asteroid colonies is making one last run before life there changes forever. Colony life is tough, as evidenced by what the merchant encountered at the last asteroid:

I had found its interior spaces open and airless, blast-marked, most of its equipment broken or gone, debris—shards of metal, rock, old synth materials, blackened bits of bone—still lodged in some deep crannies.

At the sight of the devastation, a thought of Aagot slips past the merchant’s mind. Had Aagot been there, a man who the merchant had once shared a juniper berry flavored kiss with? There is a romance story somewhere, lost in the spaces between asteroids, but there is something of even more significance that has already been found: the colony itself. And they didn’t even know they were lost. The people of Cai Nu are soon coming to save the inhabitants of the asteroids, victims of an intergalactic diaspora gone wrong.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I am still a bit clueless at using alternate pronouns, and have in the past gone through impressive feats of word maneuvering to avoid it in reviews. When reading first person pieces, it seems I go through a mental process of trying to figure out what gender box to put the narrator into. When it is not initially obvious, we become attuned to hints, like the mention of the man that has been kissed by the narrator. Of course, at this point, I have trained myself not to jump to any conclusions based on this alone, but it narrows the field, if only marginally. But why is it so important to for us to put such labels on characters? Why limit our spices to salt and pepper, when there are cinnamon and thyme and cumin and bay and star anise…each different and delectable in their own signature ways?

I don’t know, so maybe by “Short Women in Space”, I really am looking for gender diversity/inclusiveness in space, or maybe something even broader that I cannot yet articulate, but I am interested to see where I come out on the other side of this thing. One thing I do know is that sometimes labels are important, especially when you keep the cinnamon and cumin next to each other on the spice rack. Trust me, cumin in your oatmeal doesn’t taste nearly as appetizing as it sounds…


Millie Hughes-Fulford First female payload specialist

REAL Women in Space
Millie Hughes-Fulford
First female payload specialist
STS-40 (Jun. 5, 1991)
Creative Commons

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