Relationships unfolding in moments of realization--two SF/F stories
July 4, 2018 5:54 PM   Subscribe

Ruth Joffre, "Nitrate Nocturnes" (Lightspeed, April 2018): "Fiona's timer read 40 33 04 21 53 08. Years, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds. Her first girlfriend had done the math one day in bed. 'You'll be sixty-four when you meet your soul mate. I'll be twenty-two.'" Johanna Skibsrud, "The Origin of Species" (Hazlitt, 26 March 2018): "For the most part, everyone who'd actually seen it agreed that something had happened. Just what exactly was more difficult to say."
posted by Wobbuffet (6 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
TIMeR rears its head again...

Whenever I think about stuff like that, I always figure if I had one it would just say NEVER.

I did not know what to make of the timer in this story. Neither did anyone else, though.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:07 PM on July 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

So asynchronous soulmate timer fic? How does one even know the other person is truly the souldmate? Do waiting partners have children together? I think I need another 500 words ...or maybe a novel.

And the other had me thinking of how humans went to the moon a few times and never went back. Did the light think Earth is the universe's version of Philadelphia?
posted by beaning at 9:15 PM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I loved the first one, but I am simultaneously disappointed in it, even as I can objectively appreciate how my feelings align with Fiona's. I so wanted it to end on a good and happy note; the world had a casual freedom of sexuality and recognition of different kinds of relationships, which I enjoyed, but I am just tired of stories featuring romance between women that end bitterly. I wanted fluff and I got angst, and if I had known (e.g. via a tag system like AO3, where timer-soulmate fics are abundant), I'm not sure I would have read it -- or, at the very least, I could have prepared for it.

As it ends now, Fiona recognizes that she'll be trapped in an unbalanced relationship, contorting herself into the woman she thought her soul mate wanted, likely in the hopes of making Marianne's timer countdown faster than scheduled. If she makes herself attractive enough, desirable enough, maybe the timer will reflect that. Or maybe, unluckily, the timer is meant for someone else entirely. I think I've worked out the in-world rules for that, at least.

I can appreciate the writing, and for making me think deeply about it, but it's hitting a bit too close for comfort so I think I'm going to palette cleanse with some fluff.
posted by lesser weasel at 12:45 AM on July 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Author Spotlight with Ruth Joffre, that mainly focuses on "Nitrate Nocturnes" from the FPP.
posted by lesser weasel at 1:21 AM on July 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

So asynchronous soulmate timer fic? How does one even know the other person is truly the souldmate?

On a related note, I read this book on Amazon with a similar premise except that instead of timers, you see in black and white until you meet your soulmate. The narrator's parents were asynchronous: the mother saw color as soon as she met the father, but it wasn't mutual for the father. The father didn't see in color until the daughter was born... yeah, I dunno on the unfortunate implications of that one, the daughter/narrator doesn't really elaborate on this but the relationship seems to still be working for her parents. Meanwhile, the daughter has a mutual soulmate relationship with someone else.

We could optimistically assume that Marianne just comes to her senses when her timer runs out? I'm going to hope so.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:23 AM on July 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this, wobbuffet. Now working my way through your back-catalog of fpps.
posted by slipthought at 12:26 PM on July 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

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