Racing the Rings of Saturn by Ingrid Garcia is the author’s first ever contribution to F&SF, and for that, she should be congratulated. Professional genre markets are difficult to break into, and it seems that once you’ve done so, it often spells a flood of publications. For some authors, anyway.
Racing the Rings of Saturn, however, has me a bit puzzled when it comes to professional markets. The premise of the piece pits two racers against each other, one that has colluded with an oppressive government to win this high stakes race, and the other conspiring with a rebel leader to expose the plot. Then there is this race through Saturn’s rings. Yes, the premise is ridiculous, or at least makes very little sense. There are lots of ways to expose an oppressive regime, a life or death formula one race probably is the least believable.
Then there is the structure of the piece. It is broken into parts that consist of either long explanatory passages about how the rings are raced, how the race works, and how the hypothetical science might work and dialogue between the “good” racer and the rebel leader. The difficulty I had with this piece is that the explanations and didn’t connect me with the world any more than someone describing a field of wheat without any feelings about it. The dialogue was chocked with “As you know, Bob. . .” dialogue, which is to say, dialogue that covered information both characters were already aware of, and so was only presented for the benefit of the reader, which removed me from the piece and had me wondering why this scene was even included if both characters knew all this. And then I was like–“Oh, that’s sloppy.” I had little investment in the main characters as they weren’t featured much and NO time was given to their development. Sadly, this is a horribly forgettable experience for me, which is a bummer as I was excited to read a new author in this issue. If nothing else, this piece has made me wonder what editors are recognizing and looking for in genre fiction as a whole.