Friday, July 6, 2018

Broken Wings, by William Ledbetter

★★★★★ A Great Adventure With Great Characters

(SF Adventure) Marcie’s “boyfriend” comes into Deimos station unexpectedly with an even more unexpected cargo. He wants her help, but they’ve never met in person, and the cargo isn’t the only unexpected thing. (9,031 words; Time: 30m)

"Broken Wings," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 07-08|18, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The new name of the ship is wonderful.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night,
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
All your life,
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
"Blackbird," Paul McCartney, 1968

This is Marcie’s adventure, and what an adventure it is! At each stage she finds and overcomes problems, and she neither obsesses over her handicap nor denies it nor lets it slow her down for long. She’s brave in more ways than one. Using her authority to freeze all trans-Martian traffic, knowing it’ll likely cost her her job is just as brave as fighting the robot with lasers.

Even her one bit of luck—stumbling on the fact that the password is “Marcie”—tells us volumes about how Bernard really feels about her. Conversely, right at the start when Marcie says
You are inbound and hot, Nowhere Man. Please provide valid identification or you will be fired upon.
She lets us know that she’s not to be trifled with. She knows her affection for Bernard is a dream, not reality, and she knows the difference very well. (Elspeth’s “Not the best way to get that first date” is welcome comic relief though.) By the end, she's earned her place by his side, and her dream has become reality.

Cute touch: “Marcie” means “dedicated to Mars” and “Bernard” means “brave bear.”

Con: Grisha is a cardboard villain.

It’s never clear why Bernard had to make such a dramatic entrance.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 07-08|18)
William Ledbetter Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This one just didn't do much for me, I think largely because it was so pulpy and old-fashioned. Possibly also because it was the second story in this issue to feature space pirates.

    1. This is where I have to try very hard to follow my "no context" rule. That is, I don't judge the story based on the other stories in the issue, and I don't judge it based on how "original" it was. In the latter case, there's just no way to know what older stories different readers may have read.

      That said, I'm not sure I'd really call this "pulpy." I usually associate pulp with really bad science and plots that are mostly resolved by violence.