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Example

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In my future-of-sexuality editorial a couple months back, I lamented the lack of (among other things) homosexuality and bisexuality in human-future-in-space sf.

Just encountered an excellent example of what I was looking for: Geoffrey A. Landis's "At Dorado," published in Asimov's last year and reprinted in Hartwell/Cramer's Year's Best SF 8.

The protagonist is a woman who lives on a space station and whose husband (Daryn) is a starship sailor. She's worried that Daryn might have been on a ship that was destroyed. She talks briefly with a young man, Tayo, who also lives on the station, who's worried that his lover might have been on that ship—and her first momentary reaction is to worry that Daryn might also be Tayo's lover. It doesn't bother her in the slightest that that would indicate that Daryn was bi, nor does she react at all to Tayo making clear that the lover he's looking for is indeed male; what bothers her is only the possibility that Daryn might've been cheating on her.

All this is in passing, a minor incident that's thematically important to the story but not a major plot point; just casual, which neatly makes clear that homosexuality and bisexuality are ordinary and unremarkable in the world of the story. Nicely done, all the more so because Landis could just as easily have made Tayo female and thereby kept everyone straight.

I like the story as a story, too, btw; a little bit predictable, but good anyway.

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I like the story as a story, too, btw; a little bit predictable, but good anyway.

I think as we grow and read and read and read and read more, we begin to see patterns earlier in a story, because we have been exposed/passed through them so many times and have learned from that. That makes stories in general and over time more predictable. It's not a bad thing; more an understanding, and you can turn your mind to treatment instead of surprise.


I really enjoyed "At Dorado" as well... I liked the matter-of-fact tone for the deeply strange SF setting. And the sexuality ref slipped right by me, I just thought "oh, it would be hard if he loved someone else..."

Good story.


She talks briefly with a young man, Tayo
[...]
Landis could just as easily have made Tayo female and thereby kept everyone straight.

I was a bit perplexed by this second sentence, until I realized that the second word in the first sentence was not, in fact, "tarries."


I would more or less agree that more stories become more predictable as we read more (and perhaps even more predictable to slushpile readers than to the general public), but I still see a lot of stories that I can't predict. I may have guesses about the broad outlines of the story—heroine succeeds despite obstacles, reaches happy ending—but in general, a story in which I can see the specifics of what's going to happen at the end by halfway through is less likely to appeal to me than one in which I can't.

There are plenty of other factors, of course; if I love the language or the characters, for example, or if the author is obviously retelling a well-known story but doing something unusual or new with it, then I don't care so much whether the plot's predictable. And even a predicted ending can be emotionally satisfying.

But I do generally prefer (more, I think, than many people) not knowing how the story's going to end ahead of time—which is more or less same reason I try assiduously to avoid encountering spoilers for books and movies before I read or see them.


Actually, what I enjoyed about "At Dorado" was the feel of the story more than where it was going... It reminded me of stories about miners and fishermen in inhospitable places. Joan Baez popularised a folksong with the lyric
"For men must work and women must weep,
Though storms be sudden and the waters be deep
And the harbor bar be moaning."

Whether I could second guess the ending or not, having the *feel* of that sort of life transposed into SF was a lovely bit of writing.


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