Short Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

We Were Never Alone in Space

Published: October 2013 in Shimmer

Genre: science fiction

Length: 5 pages

Setting: a random city on Earth, near future

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: We follow key points in Adelaide’s life in reverse as the world realizes that the dead go to Mars in spirit. When a Martian rover touches the spirits, they are sent back to Earth.

Title comes from: It probably refers to the fact that people’s spirits were on Mars, so we are not alone in the universe.

Inventory

Published: January 2013 in Strange Horizons

Genre: post apocalyptic fiction

Length: 10 pages

Setting: various locations in the U.S., near future

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: The story is a series of snapshots of sexual encounters between the narrator and people of both sexes. It starts in her adolescence and continues as the world falls apart due to a deadly virus. She continues to move east ahead of the virus, ultimately ending on a small island off the coast of Maine.

Title comes from: The narrator made lists to keep her mind busy, and the story was a list of all her sexual encounters.

Final thoughts: Machado seems to enjoy writing stories that are just snippets of a person’s life that the reader then puts together into a narrative. You see major world events happening in the background of someone’s life. We Were Never Alone in Space is trickier than Inventory because not only do you get snippets, but they go backwards. It’s an interesting writing device that works well in a short story. You can see more of the author’s writing at her blog.

 

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