Short Story Rec: “All In A Hot And Copper Sky” by Meg Arkenberg in Lightspeed, September 2015

The whole story is free to read here.

I was your replacement, your stand-in for the survivors, because I was a survivor myself. (And what good are survivors otherwise, but to read our sorrows and grievances against the dead, to listen to what the dead cannot hear?)

Meg Arkenberg’s “All In A Hot And Copper Sky” unfurls slowly; it’s like watching a doctor unwrap bandages on a wound. You catch glimpses of the damage, you know there’s something there, something vicious, but it’s slow methodical work to get to the thing underneath. And like a doctor unwrapping a bandage this story is also deeply intimate–a singular, personal character study of a woman who is not allowed, never allowed, to stop grieving someone she lost because her dead lover is a famous killer (savior? the jury of public opinion remains out) from a failed space colony.

The narrator, Dolores, survived. Dolores survived everything: she survived the failed colony which only had survivors, arguably, due to her lover, Socorro’s, actions, then she survived Socorro’s death, too. But survival is not escape. Dolores lives the rest of her life in the shadow of Socorro’s actions, carrying the weight of her lover’s choices forever.

It’s a haunting story. Like “Dustbaby”1, it’s about grief, but it’s about an altogether different kind of grief–a kind of ferocious and public grief that can’t be escaped.


1I will not deny that I am a sucker for stories about grief. For reasons.

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