Jennifer Pelland’s Captive Girl, published 2012, is an intriguing science fiction novelette with themes of love and sacrifice. It is a short read, and free, and has left me wanting to read her novel Machine, which sets out to explore the human-cybernetic identity space in much greater depth.
In Captive Girl, Alice is a young woman who has been cybernetically modified so that her audio-visual senses are part of an advanced system scanning the heavens. When Alice was young, an invading force appeared out of nowhere, devastated the colony, leaving many dead, and departed. Alice volunteered to become part of the new scanning system, knowing that she would be sacrificing her human life to protect the colony.
Physically she is helpless. The stars are hers, but the people who control her and care for her are unseen. But Marika’s hands are lover’s hands, and against all advice Alice and Marika are in love. When, one day, Alice is returned to a more human existence, her hopes for a proper relationship with Marika are crushed – for Marika’s love for Alice was founded on her utter helplessness.
I love this story. It’s well written, and deals with a number of themes that are quite uncomfortable, so that it reads simultaneously as a love story and horror story.