Sunday Shorts—Rubbing is Racing, by Charles Payseur

coverOne of the things about listening to the audiobook of Queers Destroy Science Fiction was the overall tone of the collection: quite a few of the stories had a dark cast. This isn’t surprising, given the times we’re living in, but I have to admit, I stalled out on the collection a few times since I was listening to it in the middle of winter, and swapped over to books and stories that had more of an uplift.

That said? The fast-paced, ultimately triumphant (even in a dark setting) story Payseur delivers with “Rubbing is Racing” was the welcome breath of relief I needed when it arrived. The flash piece is quick, to the point, and knife-edge sharp: a pilot taking part in some strange sort of race (a destructive, violent race, to boot) in a ship he’s rebuilt specifically for the purpose slowly reveals—while the breakneck pace unfolds around him—what brought him here, why he races, and what, exactly is going on that would gather all these pilots together to race against time during the destruction of a whole planet, where the finish-line isn’t just a place, but surviving long enough to get away before everything is wiped out.

There’s world building, and characterization, and revelations—and it’s all done with such a limited space of time and word-count. This is flash sci-fi done brilliantly.


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