2 of 5 stars.
This short vignette of speculative, alternate history imagines that the Hindenburg never exploded leading to a full century of zeppelin travel and shipping. It purports to be a trade article chronicling a single trip from Lanzhou, China to Las Vegas, NV, USA. Maintaining the dry technical jargon of a trade paper, the tale does not contain a plot or sense of conflict. It does describe the materials and dimensions of the “modern” zeppelin in exacting, if not tedious detail.
The journalist as narrator does not interject his or her personality or opinions into the piece. The married team of pilots are granted a modicum of character with a curious light cast on their relationship. The American male, Icke, was already a pilot when he paid a service to offer him a couple dozen choices of brides from South China. After he chose, Yeling, he then paid her family for her hand in marriage.
Each pilot gives their take on piloting and their relationship causing the journalist to conjecture:
There is a lot of space in a zeppelin, I thought idly. That space, filled with lighter-than-air helium, keeps the zeppelin afloat. A marriage also has a lot of space. What fills it to keep it afloat?
This musing is not taken to any depth, however. This is not a story–it is a snapshot.
“The Long Haul: From the Annuls of Transportation, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009″ appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015 edited by Rich Norton and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in Clarkesworld, November 2014.
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