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Friday, September 19, 2014

"I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno" by Vylar Kaftan

First appeared in Lightspeed. Up for the Nebula award. Online. Interview.

Note: This is not a story that is spoiled by revealing the plot's events. However, it is available online, so read it first if you are concerned with spoilers.

The narrator falls for a man who keeps eluding her--from her perspective, almost purposefully despite being attracted to her. First he flies off at relativistic light speeds, so she marries a German who dies and when her lover returns, he marries her despite the difference in relativistic ages.

She, then, takes off on her own relativistic journey, which may or may not be spite, but her reason for leaving is otherwise unclear.

Despite life-extension, she gets a disease that requires cryogenics. Later, she uploads her personality and still waits for her lover to join her.

Although these characters seem confused about their attraction, they are not especially unreliable, except for this:

" 'I’ll marry you,' you said once, 'if you can’t find anyone else.' I laughed because I thought you were kidding. You couldn’t even propose right."
At first she's humored, perhaps a shade incredulous or flabbergasted. She believes that there is a proper way to propose "you" did it incorrectly, yet she recognized it was a proposal, which should be flattering.

There are a few reasons why someone might say such a thing:

  1. Lack of self-confidence.
  2. Belief that the other person is superior or too good for him.
  3. Long shot: A complimentary put-off. However, the lover appears to return to her, even when she is relativistically thirty years his senior, which erodes this possibility.
Later, she writes:

"If I can’t find anyone else. That’s a terrible proposal. It makes a woman feel like you’re just putting up with her.
This makes the narrator unreliable. That's not really explicit or implicit in the statement. More likely, it's justification for marrying someone else--lies a person tells herself to break off interest in someone she cares for. Maybe that's the point of the story: How we unnecessarily confuse ourselves in matters of love. As silly as many romance-based sit-coms are--usually some stupid misunderstanding arises that could be clarified with a sentence or two--they may be nearer reality than one would suppose.

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