Redstone Science Fiction No. 6
"Not Waving, Drowning" by Cat Rambo
"Wrestling With Alienation" by Desmond Warzel
Reviewed by Richard E. D. Jones
Redstone Science Fiction is a relatively new e-magazine, putting out its sixth issue this month. On offer for November are two stories, one dealing with the dissolution of a marriage in the face of technological advance and a shorter story concerning wrestling with. . . well, aliens – sort of.
Cat Rambo leads off the issue with her story "Not Waving, Drowning." Jamie and Emilio are a married couple in the near future, living on what Jamie's job brings in while Emilio looks for some sort of work.
Emilio, it turns out, isn't happy living off his wife's wages and wants more. He wants that elusive more enough that he's able to put aside his previous prejudices and decide to join the PsyKorps, a cadre of artificially created telepaths who work security in this future world.
Jamie, after a little research, finds out that no member of the PsyKorps has ever stayed married to someone who is not also a telepath. Things do not go well.
While the story was competently written, I did have a bit of a problem with the plot.
In a story about more efficient communication, Jamie habitually eschews more traditional forms of communication. She won’t talk about her feelings, preferring instead to construct conversations with her husband in her own head, ascribing words she thinks he'd say to him as if he'd spoken aloud.
She feels left out, but makes no effort to actually attempt any inclusion.
The sudden switch to Emilio's point of view at the end feels like a bit of a cheat, designed to allow the reader to feel some sort of sympathy for him while allowing Jamie to act without the reader knowing what was going on in her head.
As I said, the story was competently written. While I'm willing to concede this sort of relationship-heavy story isn't normally my area of keenest interest, I still felt it was lacking enough internal consistency to make it truly engaging.
"Wrestling With Alienation" by Desmond Warzel on the other hand, makes no pretentions toward greater literary truth and it's all the better for that. This is a short, fun story about the dangers of being really, really good at your job.
Rick King is a former Yale biology graduate and was the highest-drawing world wrestling champ in his company's history until he disappeared. He was gone for six months, missing and presumed really missing, before returned to talk to the story's narrator, the current champ.
Rick, it seems, was kidnapped by aliens and forced to fight to the death in an alien arena for the amusement of the extraterrestrial life forms with a penchant for sport. The great thing about it is that Rick used his biology knowledge in addition to his wrestling prowess to win the tournament.
With his win, Rick went on to become something of a celebrity and continued fighting aliens to great acclaim.
Our unnamed narrator and heir to Rick's wrestling crown, after receiving his visit from the former champ, walks down to the bar and discusses the situation with Dutch, who seems to be the owner or operator of the wrestling league.
Told mostly in snatches of well-written, engaging dialogue, the story is essentially one long build up to the ending twist, which I will refrain from spoiling here. It's not entirely unexpected, but it does work quite well.
My only reservation in recommending this story was a continuity slip at the end that sort of dragged me out of the narrative. It almost seemed as if Warzel forgot who the current champ was.
Still, even with that (which I'm willing to admit might be my own oafishness rearing its ugly head), "Wrestling. . . " was an enjoyable way to spend a few minutes.
I know this last bit isn't fiction, but I really enjoyed the interview – conducted by Henry Cribbs – of five people who turned their National Novel Writing Month work into published novels. Definitely a good, encouraging read as NaNoWriMo rolls on.
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