Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

‘Trembling Blue Stars’ by Richard Kadrey

with one comment

“Space is as ordinary as this street or that hotel. Once you’re over the initial shock of it, space is like anywhere else. It’s life. It’s ordinary. Even tedious, at times, but, like life, punctuated with moments of brilliance.”

“Such as?”

“Seeing a supernova as it happens. Our guests can see a wider spectrum than humans, so I can see the gamma ray fountains streaming from pulsars.”

“What else? Tell me.”

“Trembling blue stars being born in the Horsehead Nebula. Other intelligent races. The guests are slowly introducing us. I’ve met living machines that find us as strange as we find them. They can’t believe that fragile meat has thrown itself out into space.”

A simple story: Arkadi is a cosmonaut; in order to tolerate deep space he has been killed, had his organs removed and been re-animated by an alien parasite (a “guest”); returning to Earth he encounters Valentine, the woman he abandoned, in a cafe; she fails to convince him to resume their relationship. It is told in the first person but mostly consists of dialogue, interpersed with an occassional arch comment such as “Cigarettes are the perfect prop when you have nothing to say.” The dialogue is sharp and the back and forth is enjoyable but this jousting gives way to some depressingly familar battle of the sexes.

There is an overpowering whiff of girl cooties to the story. Arkadi has fled his relationship for space and it turns out space is no place for girls. “You can’t blame me for that. There are basic biological incompatibilities between female neurochemistry and the guests.” This, as Valentina points out, is very convenient. She does get her shots in but she on the whole she is portrayed as desperate, pathetic and unable to define herself except against Arkadi. The final section of story is a race to see just how much she will debase herself to try and win him back: “Take me with you. I don’t need much. I’ll be your rabbit. Give me lettuce and water and rub my ears every now and then.” Arkadi, augmented by the emotional detachment of his guest (a “meat puppet run by a space monster”), spurns her again and considers this an act of kindness.

Written by Martin

1 October 2009 at 12:17

One Response

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  1. […] mention from Thomas Eaves here. Lois Tilton described it as “a sad story“. Martin is less keen: There is an overpowering whiff of girl cooties to the story. Arkadi has fled his relationship for […]

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