This may be a terrible idea, but a quite a few years ago, back when I have a Livejournal, I decided to blog once a day about a short story. It was called Short Stories 365, and I managed the feat. For a whole year, once a day, a review of a short fiction piece. Those small reviews are all gone, alongside my nuked LJ, but it occurred to me that I could try again. And this time, I’ll be planning ahead, so as I read stories, I’m going to write and schedule reviews ahead of time, rather than trying to write them all the day-of (which was the only part of the equation that I was dreading from the last time I did this).
So, here we are. Day One. Only this time it’ll be Short Stories 366 because, y’know, leap year.
“Chocolate Milkshake Number 314” by Caroline M. Yoachim
From People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction, this tale strikes an incredibly difficult balance between certain doom and, well, a blooming romance. There’s a ship that’s roughly two years away from falling into a black hole. There’s no escape, the fuel isn’t enough, and that’s just that.
So what do you do when you’ve got two years left to live? Well, for the voice of the story, it begins with being polite. The food available on the ship is… reconstituted and replicated and from all accounts vaguely appetizing at best. The character’s favourite is a block that tastes kinda/sorta like pizza.
When an engineer offers to try and make them both a chocolate milkshake, she’s skeptical at best. And she’s totally right. It tastes like awful. But the next day the engineer is ready to try again. And again. And again.
What unfolds is a lovely relationship, with what I’ll absolutely come out and call an “adorable” ending, on a ship that’s doomed from the moment the story begins.