Portrait of a Spore by Lissa Price

Published: a short story included in the novel Starters, published in 2012

Genre: science fiction (the set up to a dystopian novel)

Length: 18 pages

Setting: Los Angeles, near future

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: There are two parts to this story. The first is the story of a spore as he is prepared to be fired from a rocket and infects someone. The other part of the story is from Barbara Woodland’s viewpoint. There’s a war on the West Coast. There are rumors the enemy has developed some kind of biological weapon in the form of spores. The government developed enough vaccine for the elderly and children, but everyone is panicking. We follow Barbara as she heads to the stores to stock up on supplies with her older daughter. Barbara is infected by the spore of the other storyline at the end.

Final thoughts: Meh. I don’t understand why the spore we follow is so dumb, but his neighbors know the answers to his questions. If they know, why doesn’t he? The other story is a straight panic/apocalypse setting. Bad things happen when people get frightened, and Barbara and her daughter are on the receiving end of a couple of those interactions. I do question the use of a vaccine to only protect the elderly and the young for a fatal disease. Who’s going to be left to maintain society if all the adults survive? Of course, if there’s limited vaccine, how do you decide who gets it? That’s an interesting story.

Apparently, the short story is the set-up for the post-apocalyptic world explored in the novel.

Title comes from: One of the parts of the story was the life of a spore from creation to delivery to infection

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