From the previous story of a far-future failing Earth with seed-ships and non-humans, the next story in Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time drops us right back into our contemporary Earth with “Valediction at the Star View Motel.” We start around a campfire with a group of teens and a fight started (and quickly ended) by the adopted, kind of spread-between-two-worlds, Eadie. Eadie defending her step-sister’s character from the racist snark of a white girl is just the first step in getting into Eadie’s head, but Adler has this way of wading into Eadie that builds as the story goes. First, she is angry (and with good enough reason, even on the surface), but then we start to see the depths of what has come before with Eadie, and it builds and builds. It’s a lovely progression, even when painful.
At the same time, we learn about Ghost Lake, and a particular hotel that used to be owned by Eadie’s family, and we meet another girl, who strikes Eadie as fascinating, and the two eventually sequester themselves off together, to talk, and then for more. In some ways, this story could easily have read as a YA or NA meet-cute, and it does so quite successfully even on that front, but Adler includes the lightest of traces of something speculative, and what could otherwise be completely grounded in the here-and-now gains a spark of something “other.”
This isn’t an expansive story, like so many of the rest of the tales in the anthology, but rather a character-driven one, and sum of the anthology is all the greater for including this particular part. Eadie’s “between worlds” sense of self is tested, and there’s potential for loss in the waking moments after a night where she makes herself vulnerable, but the ultimate destination Adler brings us to is both hopeful and just enough to satisfy (but, I won’t lie, I’d love more from these characters).
A note: I found this story in Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An LGBT and Two-Spirit Sci-Fi Anthology, but I need to point out this is one of those anthologies I’ve had in my collection for, well, years. It’s been sitting on my iPad, and it was only when someone asked me if I’d read it that I went to look and found out the publisher is defunct due to the publisher, Bedside Press, being shuttered when the editor confessed to sexual misconduct and sexual assault. After I went looking online and hit that roadblock, I was looking through my digital library to see what other anthologies I had and found my copy. Accordingly, I’m going to suggest you check out anything by Nathan Adler via his web-presence, as I can find no information about where support for this anthology goes.