“Merida, Yucatan: 2060” by Jewelle Gomez (1009 words)
No Spoilers: Gilda is back, racing through the Yucatan landscape as she prepares mentally to say goodbye to it, to venture away from Earth on a ship that will take her into the unknown with her lover, Effie. An encounter with a Hunter, though, might just jog something loose. A memory, and a feeling that maybe the future isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Maybe the arc of history isn’t a curved trajectory away from Earth after all. The piece is short and probably benefits from having some knowledge of the character, but works on its own as a quick look at the weight of blood, and bargain, and what that might mean for the planet.
Keywords: Vampires, Space, Memories, Hunters, Blood
Review: I really love how this story not only provides a really sharp take on vampires and memories and bargains, but how it really brings Gilda back to thinking about the world and her connections to it. The idea that she can slip away from Earth is interesting because it seems to represent this freedom. But leaving the Earth behind doesn’t sever her connection to it. That was made with blood and with history, with pain and with community. She takes blood from people, but with it she always has to give something back. Often that’s something positive, hoping that the feelings and memories that she leaves behind will make people better. Will give them a tool to help themselves. But that’s not really consistent with leaving the Earth. She has taken sustenance from the planet, and with even how painful that has been, it’s not exactly different from feeding on the hunter. She has taken, and there must be that exchange. One could argue that she has already given back, many times, and enriched the world by her presence, and that she doesn’t owe it any more. While I think the story recognizes that and doesn’t tie Gilda to some sort of guilt or debt, I do think the story also shows her that it’s not guilt or debt that guide her actions with regards to the people she feeds off of. Rather, she gives back because it’s right, because it recognizes the exchange. And that’s still true for the planet, too. She doesn’t, ultimately, want to be done with it. She wants to stay and fight. And maybe help to heal. Because that’s the same approach she takes to people, even those that have wanted to hurt her. It’s a hopeful and lovely story, and one that shows that it’s connections more than obligations that should guide decisions. Connections to a place and to a future that might be better, despite all the pain and grimness of reality at times. Connections with a community of support, and even with those who might mean you harm, because that might change, and even a hostile planet might bloom again with life and warmth and love. A fantastic read!