20

Years ago (between 2006 and 2010, so the anthology would have to have been published before then, but it might have been as old as say the 80s-90s, late 90s or early 00s more likely) I borrowed a sci fi anthology (focused on SF written by women and/or folks who aren't cisgender men, as I recall) that my mom was reading for a master's degree program.

In it, there was one particular short story that stuck with me that I want to revisit, but most of the detail escapes me. The tone was sort of melancholic but not in an overwhelming way, more kind of poetic and low-key, like when you think about leaving a place you've come to enjoy because staying would mean giving up something that's intensely a part of you.

What I recall is that it was from the perspective of a woman - possibly not human - who acted as a courier of sorts, because she could travel instantaneously between planets. I believe this involved some kind of web, or web-like imagery was used poetically to describe it? The process seemed to be somewhat intuitive and may have been described as akin to singing or dancing. Again, I have a devil of a time remembering in more than the most dreamlike of terms, hence why I want to track this story down (and the anthology it was in, if possible).

If it helps, I think there was also a story included in the same anthology about a child who gets close to an alien matriarch of some kind that is integrated into their extended family but is presented as simultaneously nurturing and parasitic (fairly sure from checking a synopsis that one is Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, but I'm unsure whether it was in the same anthology or whether I just read it in the same afternoon).

Any ideas what this could be? I've tried just about every other method I can think of to find this thing so any help is super appreciated.

5
  • @user14111 I'm now almost positive that's it - hard to tell without reading the text but at least based on the synopses I can find with a quick search and what I remember of the cover that seems like the right story and the right anthology. Thank you! Ironically I just found that same anthology in a list of places where Bloodchild had been republished, I don't know why that didn't occur to me before. Anyhow, your answer helps me feel a bit more confident about the hit, I'll mark this as answered as soon as I figure out how. Mar 5 at 7:19
  • @WanderingEcho When user14111 posts an answer click on the tick mark to the left of the answer to mark it as accepted. Mar 5 at 7:20
  • What might focused on SF written by 'women and/or folks who aren't cisgender men…' mean, please? Mar 5 at 23:04
  • @RobbieGoodwin I assume it would be a collection of SF stories not written by cisgender men.
    – Reeidly
    Mar 6 at 14:20
  • Thanks and I'm sorry, I took that phrase to be a conclusion from the writing style. Now, I see of course it might have been the publisher's deliberate intention… I happen never to have met such a tome, and so what? Mar 6 at 23:04

1 Answer 1

17

"Webrider", a short story by Jayge Carr. You may have read it in the 1995 anthology Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years (Pamela Sargent, ed.), which also contains Octavia Butler's novelette "Bloodchild". It can be borrowed (for free but registration required) from the Internet Archive.

Webriding. Flowing through stars, points of flame running through hands that aren't hands, the psychic You bound up in the physical You that's just a pattern sliding along the web, held together and existing only by the strength of will of the webrider. Sailing on evanescent wings of mind through the energy/matter currents of space, down one fragile strand of the web and up another. Feeling torn apart, as the pattern that is You is spread over parsecs, smeared across the stars; and yet, godlike, knowing those stars, sensing with psychic "eyes" the entire spectrum of space/time, so that the beat of the pulsars is like the universe's throbbing heart. . . .

2
  • 2
    That's definitely it, and that prose style is reminding me again why it's been stuck in my brain so long. Thanks again for the help! Mar 5 at 7:39
  • You're welcome!
    – user14111
    Mar 5 at 7:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.