Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Fisher Queen, by Alyssa Wong

One of the easier and often interesting tropes in speculative fiction is to take a situation or being that is in some form quite familiar to us (a fantastic one, like a unicorn or a faraway planet) and redefine it, so that as a reader you have tension between that familiar being and the one described in the story.  Just such a story is The Fisher Queen, Alyssa Wong's first sale and the last short story in the Nebula nominations.

Our protagonist is a crew member on a fishing vessel, very young for that work and a female to boot.  But she is tough and capable, and likes to think she can handle the situation well.  The success of the family fishing venture depends on the capture of mermaids--sort of like the mermaids of fantasy, in that they bear some resemblance to people, but they are considered to be pretty mindless and people eat them.  No kin to us, really.  But maybe closer than she thought...

For a first story it's a pretty darn good one.  As an award nominee it's not one of the stronger ones.  But I agree with the introduction--keep an eye on Alyssa Wong.  3 stars from me, but not a strong 3 stars.

So I have now read all the Nebula nominees for short story.  My favorite?  The Breath of War and The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye were pretty good, but my favorite was A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide.  Pinsker's artful combination of technological oddity with an ordinary life was very interesting to read. 

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