Title: War Bride
Author: Rick Wilber
In: Alien Sex (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction
Dates read: 16th September 2019
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: James stands, his head nearly touching the light fixture in the apartment’s living area.
James is about to leave the planet with a mysterious Pashi. But what are the costs? Is it something that he truly wants to do?
This story was a little familiar. Although it took the author’s little spiel about why he wrote this story to really drive home just why it was so. It was reminiscent of the Allied Forces leaving Vietnam after the war. Both leaving lovers behind, and, in some cases, trying to bring them home with them. Something that I can’t quite fathom. But by placing an American at the centre of the story, it made it much easier to understand.
Not only was this a great reversal of roles in that an American was part of the weaker group, but it was also a great gender reversal. James is the “war bride”, not some poor, unwilling female. I liked that it twisted and turned everything on its head, but still kept enough familiarity that you kind of spent most of this story scratching your head in confusion.
The vague descriptions of the alien race helped to enhance the feeling of “otherness” which was inherent in this story. It made you imagine something that wasn’t quite human, but you couldn’t quite picture her fully. Just as a vague shadowy figure who is ripping James away from everything that he knows and loves. Possibly to save him, but it also stops him from being able to ever return to a world that was important to him…what I imagine many of the “war brides” of the Vietnam War went through themselves.