Today I'm looking at the latest from Crossed Genres. In their twenty-sixth issue they're featuring stories with a theme of "Betrayal." Three, as always, and at least one by a new author. It makes for some great, sometimes experimental, stories. So let's go!
"These Eyes Are Not My Own" by Jennifer Nestojko (5038 words)
This story brings up a lot to do with love and ability and what it means to be disabled. A woman finds out that her partner has been creating copies of her, living copies that she hopes to basically kill in order to transfer the woman's consciousness into the new body, which is free from the genetic disorder that has left her wheelchair-bound. Obviously this doesn't sit well with the woman, Leah, because she's more or less comfortable with her condition. She's used to it and though she might not like her disorder, she doesn't see it as defining her. She sees herself as complete, but obviously her partner, Sarah, sees her as defective, as needing to be fixed. It seems a very common way of handling disorders, both mental ones and physical ones, and really is a shitty way of looking at a person you love. Or claim to love. Leah finds the duplicate, though, named Rachel, and learns that Rachel wants to live, doesn't want to give up her body so that Leah can walk. And Leah doesn't want that either, so she takes Rachel and escapes, leaves and asserts that she doesn't need fixing, that Sarah made a terrible mistake and will have to live with the consequences of that mistake. A good story.
"Universal Print" by Fonda Lee (3461 words)
About two friends, Cutter and Strung, who get stuck on a technology-averse world while on an illegal errand, this story is fun and funny and rather charming. It's a fairly standard setup, with Strung the more methodical, more uptight friend and Cutter the asshole, the one always thinking of crazy and illegal things to do. And Strung goes along with it because he craves a bit that thrill and that laziness. But he also is a fairly decent guy, and Cutter obviously isn't using the 3D printers that they are transporting to print out duplicate money so that he can live like a king in the small town they bring their ship to to get repaired. Only Strung has finally had enough, and decides to cut his losses, and leaves Cutter to deal with the fallout from his actions. It's a nice story, rather light and leaning heavily on the messed up friendship between Cutter and Strung. For that it's good, and does something a little different with the more classic dynamic. I was glad to see Strung finally cut out, as it were. Another pleasant read.
"And to the Republic" by Rachel Kolar (4594 words)
An alt-present story where the US has been mixed with the Roman Empire and citizens are required to worship the right "gods." These include men like the founding fathers and other important figures. At its core it seems to be about patriotism and how it can be forced onto people, how people without it are looked at like criminals and how everyone is sort of policed for their beliefs and not for their actions. The main character, Lavinia, tries to warn her sister, Antonia, that she's about to be audited, which means she has to show that she is faithful to the Republic. Like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, this is something that is pretty much forced onto people. You have to play along. At the very least you have to fake it. But Antonia refuses, and in doing so puts her family at risk. It's an interesting story, and one that definitely has some relevance, especially if you've ever known people who refused to say the Pledge, or refused to fall in line like that. There is something to Antonia's refusal, even as it costs her so much, even as her sister thinks it childish. There's a lot to take in and unpack in the story, and it's a good read.