Breaking Down Pink and Blue SF

At Castalia House, Daniel applies the definitions of Pink and Blue SF to what are perhaps the best examples of the genre. Both are short stories, and can be read in one sitting.

The first is Rachel Swirsky’s Nebula-Award winning and Hugo-nominated short story “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love”

The second is Gene Wolfe’s “Build-A-Bear”

Myself, I would say it is worth reading Mr. Daniel’s analysis if only to have an excuse to read Gene Wolfe’s story, which was new to me.

His article is here:

To get you started, here is the first 300 words or so of the first. Three hundred words is about how long an average readers should take to decide whether the rest of the short story is worthy of the time it takes to read it:

If you were a dinosaur, my love, then you would be a T-Rex. You’d be a small one, only five feet, ten inches, the same height as human-you. You’d be fragile-boned and you’d walk with as delicate and polite a gait as you could manage on massive talons. Your eyes would gaze gently from beneath your bony brow-ridge.

If you were a T-Rex, then I would become a zookeeper so that I could spend all my time with you. I’d bring you raw chickens and live goats. I’d watch the gore shining on your teeth. I’d make my bed on the floor of your cage, in the moist dirt, cushioned by leaves. When you couldn’t sleep, I’d sing you lullabies.

If I sang you lullabies, I’d soon notice how quickly you picked up music. You’d harmonize with me, your rough, vibrating voice a strange counterpoint to mine. When you thought I was asleep, you’d cry unrequited love songs into the night.

If you sang unrequited love songs, I’d take you on tour. We’d go to Broadway. You’d stand onstage, talons digging into the floorboards. Audiences would weep at the melancholic beauty of your singing.

If audiences wept at the melancholic beauty of your singing, they’d rally to fund new research into reviving extinct species. Money would flood into scientific institutions. Biologists would reverse engineer chickens until they could discover how to give them jaws with teeth. Paleontologists would mine ancient fossils for traces of collagen. Geneticists would figure out how to build a dinosaur from nothing by discovering exactly what DNA sequences code everything about a creature, from the size of its pupils to what enables a brain to contemplate a sunset. They’d work until they’d built you a mate.

If they built you a mate, I’d stand as the best woman at your wedding. I’d watch awkwardly in green chiffon that made me look sallow, as I listened to your vows. I’d be jealous, of course, and also sad, because I want to marry you.

And the first 300 words or so of the second:

Sighing, Viola picked up the yellow schedule of shipboard activities and glanced at her watch. It was three thirty, still two and half hours till dinner.

“Bermuda and the Bermuda Triangle” 2 Explorers Lounge. She had gone to that one yesterday, and they were into it already. Nothing had happened.

“Line dancing for beginners” 10 Gym. She could line dance nicely already, thank you very much, and did not enjoy being laughed at. Surely there had to be something more interesting than looking at the Atlantic.

“Talent Aboard—passengers display their musical skills.” 4 Seaview room. She shuddered.

“Make your pet.” 9 Captain’s Club. What in the world . . . ?

* * *

“I’m sorry I’m late,” Viola told the smiling young woman with the laptop. “I didn’t even know there was a Captain’s Club, and the steward I got to help me find it only made things worse.”

“No fret. I’m just glad somebody came. Bellatrix.” Rising, Bellatrix held out her hand. “I’m in the show. Did you see me last night?”

“Oh, yes!” Viola lied womanfully. “That was you! I thought you were wonderful.” She accepted the hand, larger and harder than her own.

“Thanks. But I do this, too, and I get paid by the head. I’ll have to scan your keycard.”

Viola hesitated.

“You won’t be charged. It’s included in the cruise. It’s just way I get paid.” Bellatrix smiled again. “We show folks always need more money.

“Thank you.” She glanced at the card. “Viola. Sit down, Viola. First we need to talk. Why did you come?”

Wondering when her card would be scanned but happy to sit, Viola said, “It sounded like fun, that’s all. A friend of mine went to something like this called Build-a-Bear, where they made teddy bears. She made her own bear. It’s always in the living room, and she tells everybody who’ll listen all about it. Oh, God! I’m just terrible!”

“That’s good, Viola.” Bellatrix returned the key card. “I like terrible people. What’s your specialty?”


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