Ahhhh, star-crossed lovers. Something a lot of people tend to like. I, unfortunately, am not a huge fan of romance. I tend to like the stuff that comes after, the “family” part. Because of that, I was a little bit hesitant to review C. Scott Frank’s short story Finer Things.
I really shouldn’t have worried. I haven’t read much of Cameron’s works, but every word I have read is brilliant and if he is good at anything, it is a very well executed Sci-Fi.
In C. Scott Frank’s Strange Waters Anthology short story we are introduced to our two main characters right off the bat. Those star-crossed lovers we were talking about earlier. Soren and Tabitha. Particularly Tabitha, who is our POV character.
Let me give you the synopsis of our story before we get any further.
Soren Tallweather and Tabitha Courtney are madly in love with each other and furiously in hate with the society that says they can never be together. They could escape, if only they had the means to buy anonymity. If they can get their hands on the right merchandise, that can certainly be arranged.
It was supposed to be in and out, but no job ever goes according to plan. Now it’s a race against the clock to get to safety with an all-too-familiar enemy on their tails. But justice, it seems, picks the most inopportune times to show up.
Everything they thought they had is at stake as Tabitha must settle the war within herself: what’s more important? Her own freedom or those less fortunate than her?
The story starts off right in the middle of things. Things being, escape. We don’t get the full backstory but we know enough to see that Soren, a capable, somewhat jadded and often cavalier young man and Tabitha, a street-smart but still sweet lower-class girl, are on the run. And for some reason or other, they hold a particular point of interest to the close-fisted government they seek to escape.
Very quickly we discover that Soren is willing to do just about anything to bring Tabitha to a place of safety and freedom. Just about anything includes some rather reckless behavior that puts multiple lives in danger. Nothing to out of the ordinary, right? What romantic hero wouldn’t do anything to protect the one he loves? And what romantic heroine would object to such affections?
But this is where the story really stands out. You see, I love cyberpunk and dystopian Sci-Fi. This story has a few markers of that particular genre without fully diving in, but enough that we have an idea of what to expect. It’s a grim world, marked with a lot of death and decay and injustice. Our characters, we expect, must be willing to carve a swath of blood and destruction behind them as their fight for freedom takes them right to the throat of their oppressor.
Perhaps that is what we would have seen if not for our protagonist. And here, I will have to stop talking for fear of spoiling something great.
Science Fiction is a genre that lends itself beautifully to social and moral commentary. And the genre in which C. Scott Frank chose to set his short story is typically full of the most negative views of both. Subjective morality and injustice are regular themes. I won’t lie, those things are also a huge point in my own Biopunk/Dystopian trilogy.
But what C Scott Frank has chosen to reveal through Finer Things is something very different. Let’s call it a diamond in the rough. And it is a diamond well polished with brilliant characters, a unique and exciting world that begs us to explore it further, and lots of well-placed action.
I absolutely loved this short story. It’s narrative shows us strength in what we might consider weakness, and reveals piece by piece a winding twisting story with one cohesive goal.
I can’t wait for you guys to pick this one up.
Learn more about C.Scott Frank here
Learn more about Phoenix Fiction Writers here
Buy Strange Waters Here