Revenant, by Marie Brown
A long short story by Marie Brown, “Revenant” tells the story of a man on a space station murdered by accident. Ossen had fallen in love with Lee, a newcomer to the station, and had befriended her. However, another spacer, named Dylan, becomes jealous and stops him from going on a date by forcing him into an airlock, unaware that Ossen's protective field was damaged. After Ossen dies, his spirit haunts the station, seeking revenge.
It's actually rare to place supernatural occurrences in science fiction settings. I hoped for good things from the story. Unfortunately, while the premise held promise, the story itself is fairly conventional and predictable. Only the supernatural angle came as a surprise. Everything else was routine and by the numbers. In this instance, I think the brevity of the tale counted against it; the author tried to do too much in too short a space. Six thousand words limited the scope of the tale tremendously, compressing it. The time scale was also compressed, covering no more than a day or two, making it very hard to suspend disbelief. The characters might have saved the tale, but they never got the chance to be more than cardboard cutouts. The setting of the station itself was barely used, wasting the opportunity. The story could have been anywhere with no change in plot or characters. I thought that was a shame because setting the Gothic in a modern, futuristic environment could have resulted in some fascinating moments. Once or twice, I thought Brown was about to transcend the limitations of form and story. The choice of convenient cliches over something more original dimmed those hopes.
I wanted to like this story more than I did. In the hands of a skilled or experienced craftsman, the tale could have fit within six thousand words without losing impact. As it stands, the short length and reliance on the conventional are liabilities the story can't overcome. “Revenant” is a good effort, a journeyman work, certainly a cut above average, and I think the author has potential, but this particular story is not one I would recommend.