Short Stories 366:31 — “A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady,” by Elizabeth Porter Birdsall

coverThis short story, performed incredibly well by the narrator for the audiobook version of Women Destroy Science Fiction, was outright amusing and borderline adorable. It was a nice reminder, to me at least, of how science fiction doesn’t exist outside the realm of humour, and how often—unintentionally, I hope—there’s a bias against science fiction that doesn’t dare to keep things grim or dire or directly serious in every way.

If you’re at all a fan of etiquette-centred periods of history, burglary stories, or heist tales, then I think there’s going to be something to love in “A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady” for you. We meet a young woman railing against the demands of her mother to choose an appropriateness for her debut—that her debut is one of burglary assisted by stealth technology circuitry sewn carefully into her pantaloons is quite beside the point. There is a man she’d love to burgle, for whom she’d gladly leave a token so her theft might be traced back to her, which would mean their families could meet and, alongside returning a pilfered item, a potential courtship could occur.

Instead, her mother’s insistence on a higher status target leaves her out on her debut, moving through shadow, and wishing there was some way to have a more direct control over her own destiny and burglary target. And opportunity knocks when, by chance, she encounters another young woman on a similar mission. From there, the story just delights with dialog, the give-and-take of potential new friendships, and a great deal of world-building that makes me wish I could visit this setting again, for more stories.

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