Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Amy's Random Readings :: "Wake-Rider" by Vandana Singh

"Wake-Rider" by Vandana Singh is a science fiction story in the December 2014 issue of Lightspeed magazine. It's one of the fifty-seven short stories that made the recent 2014 Locus Recommended Reading List. I (Amy) wanted to read something from this list, but didn't know where to start. Using a random number generator, I randomly selected to read this story.

"Wake-Rider" is set elsewhere in space, sometime in the distant future when multiple planets have been settled by humans. The protagonist, Leli, is a young woman who has joined the revolution against the Euphoria Corpocracy. A nanoplague that transforms infected people into docile, servile manufacturers and consumers is spread by Euphoria.

Leli stalks an Euphoria salvage ship leaving a space station in her tiny scabship. She rides the ripples of spacetime in the wake of the salvage ship, and accompanies it across Metaspace. It takes her to a region near an abandoned planet that was cleansed by Euphoria after a failed revolution. Leli follows the salvage ship to a derelict generation ship. Onboard Leli finds no one left alive. But in the generation ship's cryochamber, she discovers evidence that the frozen dead humans, who were likely fleeing revolutionaries, may have found a cure for the nanoplague. Leli must not let the salvage crew find the cryochamber.

I thought "Wake-Rider" was a good, solo space adventure. I found Leli to be a sympathetic protagonist. There were action scenes, and interesting futuristic details. The Euphoria Corpocracy was painted as pure evil, and the generational ship as the scene of a tragedy. One thing that made this story different was that it showed how devastated Leli was by the accidental deaths of the salvage ship crew, because she felt they were once people like her.

The author, Vandana Singh, is a female Indian science fiction writer living in the USA. She has a Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics. I enjoyed this story. I'll be on the lookout for other stories by Vandana Singh.

Picking a random short story from the Locus Recommended Reading List worked out pretty well. I'll be trying this again.

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