Published: April, 2013 in Strange Horizons
Genre: science fiction, alien abduction
Length: 19 pages
Setting: various locations in the U.S., recent past
Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology
Summary: We follow the narrator, Kelly-Anne, as she goes along with her father on patrols and listening for Skylings broadcasts over the shortwave radio. Her father knows the Skylings are coming for him, but he’s prepared, and he’s preparing his daughter so she can also avoid abduction by the Skylings. Unfortunately, the mother is not as prepared and she is taken instead. This prompts a lifelong flight from the Skylings, who are always on the verge of catching up with them. The father is taken many years later and Kelly-Anne has to make her way back to one of her father’s old friends (who he’s pretty sure isn’t a Skyling in disguise) so she has somewhere safe to live until she comes of age. Soon enough, the Skylings come for her as well.
Final thoughts: I wasn’t impressed with this story. For one thing, Kelly-Anne refers to her parents as “Daddykins” and “Mommykins”, which I found completely off-putting. Here’s this highly adaptable, independent young woman who’s been on the run for years, and she refers to her equally capable father as Daddykins? Really? Every time I saw the word, I would get annoyed. Otherwise, it’s a pretty normal alien abduction story. The aliens are coming for her, and sure enough, despite everything she manages to do, they get her in the end. I didn’t find anything particularly new or refreshing in the story.
Title comes from: It’s a reference to Area 51. The narrator and her father called their special lookout location Area 54, since it was off 54th Street.