Story Intro – “The Sweet Spot”

Posted on September 13, 2012 by

“I’m gonna visit Dad.” Matt is curled in the passenger seat of their antique minivan, scowling as offworlders tromp and slither past their front bumper. Shooting a glance at Ruthie through long, pretty eyelashes, he flips down the visor to check the mirror.

“Dad’s dead, Matt. He can’t see your haircut.”

This July Lightspeed Magazine ran my latest squid story, a novelette “The Sweet Spot.” I was a little preoccupied at the time, so though I mentioned it quite a few times, here and on Twitter and elsewhere, I never got around to writing the introduction I promised for it.

This story is set earlier in the Proxy War than any of the other published squid stories. In “The Town on Blighted Sea,” for example, Ruthless Gerrickle is in her late fifties. Here, she’s just a teenager and just Ruth. She likes to think she’s tough as nails, but really she’s an orphan in a war zone, and is more vulnerable than she’d like to admit.

In writing these stories, I often started out with U.S. geography. (Actually, I’ve just realized the topic of geography and my writing is a whole post in itself, and I’ll try not to keep you waiting for it for long.) “Five Good Things about Meghan Sheedy” is about the Siege of Seattle and “Time of the Snake” is set during an occupation of Los Angeles. I have a half-written squid story set in Las Vegas and one out to the markets now that’s about the Fiend push into Texas from Mexico.

The idea, you see, is that in this global civil war there’s one side, called the Fiends, who have a good hold on all of the world except the Americas. Now they’re working their way upward from South to North: the U.S. is the last real holdout against them. So it’s just a march up the map: Seattle, naturally, happens later than Texas. In “The Sweet Spot,” the Fiends haven’t even begun their land invasion of the U.S. yet; they’re just reaching out to pick off Hawaii. And it’s Ruth’s bad luck to be there, along with her little brother.

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