Short Stories 366:274 — “The Final Decree,” by Jeffrey Ricker

By now, it’s likely you know I adore Jeffrey Ricker (see: Detours, The Unwanted, my never-ending-suggestion-that-I’d-like-a-sequel-to-The Unwanted) but it’s maybe less known how much I like me a good pew-pew-pew sci-fi story (okay, maybe that isn’t less known, it’s just less often I get to read them). Jeffrey Ricker doing a queer sci-fi with cranky/grumpy hero trekking half-way across the known damn galaxy because that’s the only way his husband agreed to sign the damn divorce papers so he can marry the guy he’d really like to marry? Oh, I am so in.

The above is more-or-less the set-up: Bill (sorry, Lockhart William Templeton III) really wants to marry his fella. His fella is not only a lovely, cuddly, snuggle-bunny sort of man (maybe not in those words), their marriage would also seal a pretty awesome family “merger” among their two powerful families. There’s just a tiny problem, really. That quickie marriage thing he did as a hotheaded youth to a guy who was so the wrong man. So he reaches out to the ex (but still legally binding husband) and asks him to finally, finally sign the damn papers. And the ex agrees! Except he demands to do it in person and he’s in the middle of nowhere, and so now Bill is filling his backpack with family proprietary tech to keep himself safe and/or on the subtle for the worst vacation ever.

Things are not all, of course, as they seem, and by the time Bill realizes just how not-as-they-seem things are, he dials up from “grumpy” to “sincerely displeased” and I think the snark factor between the characters is sort of the best thing ever. Also, pew-pew science fiction happens, some really wonderful world-building about this future galaxy, and it’s a Jeffrey Ricker book, so you know there’s going to be some feelings and some self-doubt and then maybe an explosion or two because pew-pew. I read this novella in one sitting (I was lucky enough to get to see it before everyone else), but the best news is The Final Decree is now available everywhere.

I asked Jeffrey Ricker where he got the idea for this novella, and the inspiration is awesome:

Where did the idea come from? Joan Collins. Specifically, the ’80’s nighttime soap opera Dynasty. For those who don’t know, her character, Alexis, was the arch-nemesis of her ex-husband Blake and constantly tried to make live miserable for his second wife, Krystle. And when Alexis found out that Krystle had also previously been married but had never actually gotten around to getting divorced, well, that was perfect fodder for her scheming ways. It obviously took a bit of a leap to get from there to The Final Decree, but my brain works like that sometimes.

Also, I wanted to write something fun. For the past several years (more than I wish to count—OK, fine, eight years), I’ve been working on a novel about near-future climate collapse and… it’s been heavy. Writing this lightened my mood, and I hope people who read it have a similar experience.

Jeffrey Ricker

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