A review of Gary W. Renshaw’s “Vacation” in OnSpec #92 Vol. 25, No. 1
By Derek Newman-Stille
Most SF authors write from their offices or living rooms, venturing into space in the realms of the mind, touring imaginary landscapes…. but what happens when an SF author ends up on an alien world? According to Gary Renshaw’s “Vacation”, odds are he or she would be very annoyed.
Harlan Smith is a SF author who, while travelling through space, ends up in a life pod escaping a rapidly exploding starship. He crash lands on an alien world and is immediately met with the irritation of adapting to an alien environment. Surrounded in flies that squash onto his face like snot, followed by loud and obnoxious wildlife, and generally beset with the irritations of trying to adapt to a new environment with very little awareness of what to expect… Harlan finds himself incredibly annoyed.
Sci Fi authors often portray delving into the unknown, seeking out new life and new civilisations as fundamentally an exciting process. Motivated by curiosity and the desire for adventure, protagonists jump into their new worlds with the skills to survive. Through the eyes of Harlan Smith, Gary Renshaw points out the flaws in these assumptions. He shows the danger of mundane things on alien worlds, where seemingly normal things can be deadly and when they aren’t deadly, they can be irritating enough to wish for the more deadly aliens. Who wants to seek out new life when it turns out that those new lifeforms are not quite fascinating, but more irritating than anything else.
In this cruel twist of fate, Renshaw puts a sci fi author in the position that they often put their protagonists and allows him to be subject to the irritations that sci fi authors often visit upon their characters.
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If you are curious about Gary W. Renshaw’s other work, visit his website at http://trilunar.ca/index.php .