Re: Captive Girl

With lovely, musical language, ” Captive Girl,” by Jennifer Pelland opens with a vista of space as seen by a watcher tracking dangers to her home. Then the watcher, Alice, wakes up in her body. She is trammeled in the machinery that makes it possible, her face covered by a heavy mask, her senses replaced by electronics. It’s a great example of the extremes people will go to.

You feel for Alice as you understand the price she is paying. For ten years she has joined two other girls in watching the sky for her people. She has given up her life, her childhood. She’s only nineteen. And starved for love and human contact.

So it’s comforting when her caretaker, Marika, comes to her and gives her a gentle kiss. But then she calls Alice “my beautiful captive girl” and starts to massage her shoulders, and then–maybe it’s not so comforting.

The story is told vividly, without shying away from her sexual feelings, but this is not my cup of tea. Does the seat/body interface really have to be between her legs? And did we really need to have a scene where she is tied down? Yick.

I do admire Alice for wanting to keep working, even as the others go mad or rebel. I admire her determination to regain her strength once she is set free. I admire the way she says No to Marika, and then later, the way she says, Yes.

It’s Marika that I’m not so sure about. Though she stops when Alice tells her she is going too far, it seems Marika is attracted to the “captive girl,” not Alice. Maybe Alice doesn’t want to call it a fetish, but it is. And it is so brave and loving of her to give Marika what she needs. Dan Savage (who often advises readres to satisfy their partner’s fantasies) would be smiling.

Still, I wonder what would happen to this story if Marika had been Mark?

Tomorrow: A story with no sex. Well, hardly any.

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4 responses to “Re: Captive Girl

  1. Or Alice “Al.” And I’d do best to resist most of my other comments.

    Without reading it, I know exactly the kind of story you just described. Seen enough of them in my reading life. Not my cup of tea, even when well done.

    Still, Pelland’s recent collection is getting decent reviews (there was a half page write-up in the Globe recently). Probably worth a look.

  2. Near as I can tell, people like this story love the collection. I have found another story by her that’s more to my taste. I’ll be posting about that later this week.

  3. “Still, I wonder what would happen to this story if Marika had been Mark?”

    I knew the only way this story would work was to make both of them women. I don’t think I ever considered any other combination of genders. When I looked back at it later, I realized why I’d made that choice, but at the time I was writing it, it just was an instinctual decision. It was clearly the only way that readers would have a fighting chance of getting past the potential abuse issue and so they could see the rest of the story.

    Anyhow, I don’t mind that it’s not your cuppa. I know it’s a difficult story. And it’s actually kind of satisfying to have written something that’s mildly controversial 🙂

  4. @Jennifer,

    Thanks for stopping by! It’s always fascinating to hear how writers make their choices about how to handle a story.