Sunday Shorts—Trickier With Each Translation, by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

coverThis story, included in Queers Destroy Science Fiction, was such a tone-perfect use of so many moving parts that I sat back and just enjoyed myself the first time, and then went back to start it again to pay more attention for a quick Sunday Shorts review.

“Trickier With Each Translation” juggles a few things, but first and foremost, it’s a flipping clever story with elements of time-travel. Centred on a woman who is adrift in her own timeline, reliving moments of her life thus far, each “translation” to a new time period in her life is an abrupt—and often somehow alien—reflection of who she was versus who she is. In and of itself, this is fascinating, but then we learn this isn’t an accident, or a random encounter.

This has been done to her, on purpose, and with malice born of unrequited—and toxic—attention from a man with a gift over time.

Stufflebeam juggles bisexuality (and biphobia), the hateful toxic “friend-zone” garbage, the confusing sense of “what is normal?” even supposed to be, and so much more in this short piece. And the sheer characterization and world-building going on alongside the narrative was fantastic. Time-travel, super-powers borne of bacterial infections, outwitting someone more powerful than you, loving women, loving men… the heroine here just shines, even as she lives through something horrifying and cruel.

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