BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Slightly Behind and to the Left: Four Stories & Three Drabbles by Claire Light

Slightly Behind and to the LeftI used to think of myself as a well-rounded reader … I read just about anything, although I’m the first to admit that my little brain really struggles with poetry 99.9% of the time. But the one thing, I recently realized, I definitely don’t read much of is science fiction … A Wrinkle in Time twice around as a child and then as a mother listening to the audible version with my own young ‘uns is not enough. Apparently, it’s now just ‘sf’ – not spelled out – but I’m so old, I’m just getting to the lingo.

So Claire Light’s slim, bright little book threw me for a loop for sure. It’s not just sf (see? I’m using my new lingo in a sentence!) … Light’s genre-of-choice is “feminist sf”! Co-founder and still-blogger for Hyphen magazine, Light is no stranger to the literary … she just writes from another universe to which we earthbound have to catch up.

The collection opens with a shocker titled “Vacation,” a way-in-the-future Amazonia where all the adult men have disappeared. Gone. Poof. Left behind are only the boys … “but with the older ones, if you looked away sometimes, they wouldn’t be there when you looked back.” Women take to “prowling” for the not-yet-matured young males … the story couldn’t be more disturbing to read for a mother with a tween son, that’s for sure. “Pigs in Space” is another spine-chiller, about two workers who run an outer space pig farm (the ultimate in genetic engineering!). Their painstakingly monitored existence has no allowance for (inevitable) error, and only the most drastic calculations will ensure survival.

The last two stories prove interlinked: in “Pinball Effect,” a single human is temporarily allowed by his “Abductors” on to F&***rk, not unlike Earth but missing any gravity, where he loves and loses the elusive “O#%M#T; in “Abducted by Aliens!” that now-returned-to-Earth single human being’s story is recalled decades later through the lens of his sister’s memory.

In the Afterword, Light admits “A childish part of me wants you to just get it,” and she goes on to explain the ultimate alien Asian American experience of Japanese American imprisonment during World War II: “Abducted by Aliens’ is an experiment with conveying the experience of only half-understanding hidden history because no one will come out and explain it to you.” Indeed, while her readers are the ones who are ‘slightly behind,’ Light is … can’t resist … light years ahead reinventing the Asian American experience, feminist sf-style.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2009



Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.