Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Sinew and Steel and What They Told, by Carrie Vaughn

★★★★☆ A moving tale and a nice set up for more stories.

(Space Opera) Graff just had an accident so severe that he can no longer keep the secret that he’s a cyborg from his crewmates and his lover. (4,432 words; Time: 14m)

"," by (edited by Ann VanderMeer), published on by .

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

Review: 2020.129 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: A rare SF/F story with a gay-male romantic element that doesn’t feel forced. Well done, Carrie Vaughn!

In terms of plot, this story is about how Graff is forced to come out to his crewmates as a cyborg and how they cope with it. In particular, his lover has every reason to be upset, since Graff has been lying to him the whole time they’ve known each other. (My own experience has been that when you come out to someone who knew you for many years is that the relationship is never again as close as it was before, so Graff has my sympathy, but I also understand how his crewmates feel.)

Graff himself is a loveable, guileless character. The sort of guy who, when asked, “are you a spy” answers “I don’t think so.”

The setting is just one room in sick bay—the action never leaves that one room. But in the process, we learn all sorts of tantalizing hints about the world this is set in. This is a military vessel, and Graff is part of a military organization. There may not be a war ongoing, but there are definitely pirates, and this vessel has armaments.

Whatever organization Graff belongs to is a mystery all by itself, and it seems to operate at galactic scale, not just within one system, which makes this a space-opera story for sure.

I hope this is the first taste of a new series so we’ll get to learn more about the setting and maybe the characters.

Con: They seem to be way too slow about quizzing Graff. I’d expect the captain to pound him with questions rather than letting him sleep.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating.

    Well worth reading for award purposes.

    Graff was very badly injured. I think that was why the captain did not interrogate him in am ore vigorous manner.

  2. Prequel to this story: "An Easy Job", (9 Jun 2021)