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SPACE SLUGS

Sense and Sluggability

By S. D. Youngren, author of Rowena's Page

Dec 19, 2009: Frances Pauli’s Space Slugs is, as of this writing, an unfinished story; in fact, not very much has yet been posted, though it’s certainly being updated. It’s so short that I can say only so much about the plot, themes, and so forth, but there’s one thing I think I can say safely: It’s a funny and entertaining romp.

This is a sort of space odyssey, following one generally-rational protagonist and her three colorful companions. The protagonist is a xenobiologist named Dr. Murray—just Dr. Murray. Either people where she comes from have only one name, or she’s chosen to drop at least one of hers; she’s Dr. Murray and her sister, Zora, calls her Murray, or Mur.

Zora is annoying. Very annoying. Amusingly annoying, luckily for us, as long as you’re not the one she’s getting into trouble. Perhaps Zora would not be quite so annoying if instead you happened to be the guy she was flirting with—rather shamelessly—at the moment, though frankly I’m not entirely sure. I suppose some guys like that sort of thing, judging from the number of weddings Zora’s had, or almost had, or something like that. The latest of these has netted her an unusual wedding gift—a slug. A supposedly extinct but large and rapidly-growing pink space slug.

The slug has Murray worried. She has no idea how big the beast will get, or what her—Zora has decided that the slug is a her—habits might be. Neither, apparently, does anyone else, except perhaps the slug herself, and she isn’t talking . . . at least, not in a manner you would call helpful. She is, however, big enough at this point to tower over the rest of the company. We’re talking major mollusk here.

The fourth member of Murray’s party—one who actually is helpful—is the android, Rook. At least, Murray thinks he’s an android. He looks like an android, and he does have a number of decidedly helpful android capabilities. He also seems to have a rather un-androidlike crush on Murray, who has decided to deal with the situation by refusing to believe it.

With these three companions—a pesky sister, a mechanoid almost-suitor, and a giant pink slug—Murray has to face murderous reptiles, clones, more clones, a mighty but mysterious emperor, and . . . whatever situation she lands herself in next.

Or Zora lands her in.

Pauli’s imagination is lively and rewarding, as is her humor. The writing is generally lively as well, though subject to an occasional clumsiness, and there are also some spelling and grammatical mistakes. But the dialogue works well, and I like Murray’s occasional Zora-cidal thoughts. Maybe I’m too old to say such things, but I’ll make an exception in Zora’s case. Though she’s too entertaining to really be a girl you love to hate; she’s more of a girl you’d like to, um, slug.

We’ll just have to see what happens.

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