March 17th, 2005


[SH-20050103] "Two Dreams on Trains", by Elizabeth Bear

Rating: 8


A woman works hard so her son can escape a dead-end life in flooded New Orleans. She wants him to some day be able to get away on one of the trains (flying trains that land in and take off from the water) that are constantly delivering cargo to the city. In order to get on one of them, he needs to study to be a technician or a tradesman. However, her son only wants to be an artist. He tags one of the trains with a colored etching (one that can only be removed if the company that owns the train decides to go through the expense of re-covering the entire hull) of a sea serpent. He gets caught, and his hands are stained black, branding him as a criminal, making him unable to ever get away on one of the trains. The mother's dream dies, but he gets to have his artwork seen by people all over the galaxy.

I generally liked the style. I don't always like that kind of dreamy, almost mystical tone, but it worked pretty well for this. I liked the simultaneous achievement of his dreams and the crushing of hers. Because I'm me, I noticed some places that didn't have commas where I would normally have put them, but it didn't distract me too much.