“'Everyone’s got to live somewhere,' she says.”
September 30, 2020 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Three scifi/fantasy stories about people finding friends and discovering places they fit in. "Women Making Bees In Public" by Alexandra Erin is a short fantasy story about two women making friends, overcoming being interrupted by men, and discussing free will, chaos, brains, and what they want. "You Have to Follow the Rules" by Ada Hoffmann (audio) gives a girl a quiet, roomy escape at a scifi convention. And "Programmer at Large" by David R. MacIver is a web serial about a progammer-archaeologist who discovers some oddities in their ship's social graph.

"Women Making Bees In Public" by Alexandra Erin" (includes a woman worrying that men will be violent):
Too late, I realize that she’s looking around and that the sweep of her eyes are on a collision course with mine. Her smile broadens and she says, “Hello.”

It is probably a mistake to judge someone’s voice based on two syllables projected across a distance in the open air, and had it transpired that her voice was anything other than everything I’d hoped it to be, I wouldn’t have. But it is confident, clear. It drips with charm.

My hands look for something to do, and wind up pulling both my newsie-style hat and my scarf off and mopping my very not-sweaty face. I realize I’m basically hiding behind them and force my errant extremities to my side, then approach her, hat literally in hand.

“Hi,” I say. “Do you mind if I talk to you?”
"You Have to Follow the Rules" by Ada Hoffmann (audio):
On the chair to the other side of where Mommy had been sat the Jedi girl. Annalee stared at her, wondering how long she'd been there, invisible.

The Jedi girl took a paper and pencil from the folds of her robe and scribbled something. Then she folded the paper and handed it to Annalee, along with the pencil, being careful not to come too close.

The rules are different where I come from, said the paper, Where I come from, no one touches your helmet unless you tell them it's okay.

Annalee blinked, then picked up the pencil.

Where do you come from?
"Programmer at Large" by David R. MacIver ("Science fiction loosely based on the Qeng Ho from Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky") is an series currently 14 chapters long, not yet finished (and due to be refactored rather than continued) but at a kind of natural stopping point.
"Yes but these students are terrible. It's like they learned to fight by watching Lesbian Space Pirates."

"Didn't you learn to fight by watching Lesbian Space Pirates?"

"Hey! That's slander!"

I seized up. They were right, it was totally untrue, and now they were going to hate me and I was going to get voted off the ship at the next destination and-

"You're right, I'm sorry, I, uh, I'll go I"

I started to pull away towards the door but Sam grabbed me. At about the same time I finally noticed my HUD was flashing a giant "THAT WAS A JOKE STOP PANICKING THEY AREN'T OFFENDED" symbol in my face.

"Waste it, Arthur, I'm sorry. That was stupid."

I tried to brush it off, but allowed myself to be pulled back into their embrace.

"No, no, it's fine. I should have realised that was a joke. I'm the one being stupid."

I breathed deeply, trying to will my heart rate back down below two beats per second and repeatedly telling myself it was fine, just a false alarm, and trying to relax.
(As I read them: the David R. MacIver story and possibly the Alexandra Erin story star socially anxious people, I think; the Ada Hoffman story and maybe also the MacIver story star people on the autism spectrum; the MacIver story stars an asexual person. This isn't meant to be definitive, just to point people to stories that might represent your experience.)
posted by brainwane (7 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Yay! Brainwane, I so appreciate these posts!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:58 PM on September 30, 2020 [5 favorites]

Oooh, these are lovely! Thank you so much for pointing me to them - I don't read a lot of short fiction but really enjoyed all three of these. :)
posted by esoteric things at 9:08 PM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

I liked the programmer one. I was struck by how it took some tropes that might have been familiar to an Asimov-era reader and then gave them its own twist.
posted by Wretch729 at 5:00 AM on October 1, 2020

Brainwane, thank you for curating these stories in this series of posts.
posted by doctornemo at 5:46 AM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Another gratitude to brainwane for all these great stories! They've been my favorite part of MeFi this last little while.
posted by solotoro at 6:22 AM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I loved "You Have to Follow the Rules", as someone not-entirely-neurotypical-especially-as-a-child who used to literally believe that every house had secret rooms with hidden doors. These stories are our doors, I guess.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:28 AM on October 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have only read "Bees" so far, but there was so much I enjoyed about it - all the completely different aspects it combined, and the many times it flipped my assumptions. But mostly, of course, the bees.

Thank you so much for these, brainwane!
posted by kristi at 4:54 PM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

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