35) ‘Stealth’ by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I read this in the issue of Asimov’s that was in the Hugo Voter Packet and I must confess I would rather it have been on the ballot this year than a couple of the others that actually got nominated. It’s the tale of a woman called Rosealma aka Squishy, who starts the tale on a station; she quickly moves off the station again before it blows up. I liked this story because of how well the flashbacks were used – it’s not a novel concept but they were exactly where they needed to be to lend context to proceedings. I also liked the central idea and the hints at what might be happening.
The gist of the story is that there is a technology, archaic and misunderstood, that allows cloaking of enemy vehicles. Our protagonist researches this while at university and eventually decides to go into the area, becoming the godmother of stealth tech (a rather odd phraseology since most of the time the influential figures in a field are described simply as ‘father’ or ‘mother’ and the ‘god-’ part felt a bit strange to me). It eventually becomes clear that what had been thought to be a simple way to cloak ships is rather more than that, and things take unexpected turns. This is accompanied by the deaths of lots of people working on the technology, which way heavily on Rose’s mind. As I say, I liked this a lot.
If I had one criticism it’s that Turtle didn’t seem very real to me. She’s only mentioned in passing, and I’m surprised; I would have thought that a dead girlfriend would weigh more heavily on the mind than it obviously does. I can’t decide whether this was a deliberate attempt to show Rose avoiding the subject of her death, or whether it’s just badly done – could be either.
I could probably try to write more about this but I’m tired and it’s late, unfortunately. Another time, perhaps.