A&A Salvage by Lucy Kemnitzer

A&A Salvage by Lucy Kemnitzer
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (81 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Elisabeth and Melissa live a quiet life, running their mechanic shop together. The biggest drama in their life is Melissa occasionally having to remind men that she’s happily taken.

Then they’re called to pick up an abandoned car that proves to be unidentifiable and without an owner. It also has a strange radio that plays music both strange and familiar, stirring up memories and longings Elisabeth believed long buried.

Then a mysterious, beautiful woman arrives to claim the car and threatens to draw Elisabeth into a world far beyond the happy, stable life she’s built…

It’s hard to outrun the past, but that hasn’t stopped Elizabeth from trying.

The descriptions of the abandoned car made me wish I could sit in it. The differences between it and what one can generally find in a regular automobile weren’t always easy to spot right away, but once they were revealed I was curious to learn more about them. Some of the most interesting sections of this short story were devoted to exploring these differences without giving away the biggest pieces of the puzzle right away.

While I understand Elisabeth and Melissa’s strong preference for a quiet, rural life, there were times when their aversion to modern technology felt unrealistic for a story with a contemporary setting. There are definitely people out there who aren’t comfortable using these things, but I would have preferred to have some sort of explanation for why there are two of them living in the same household. In my experience, that’s extremely rare. Figuring out why this was the case distracted me from an otherwise engaging plot.

Elisabeth has lived with her secrets for a long time. She seemed like the kind of person who has always followed the rules, so I was curious to see what someone as mild-mannered as her could possibly be hiding from her partner. What intrigued me even more about this character is what all of this secret-keeping says about her personality. It was a smart way to dig into what makes Elisabeth tick while still expecting readers to piece certain clues together on our own.

I’d recommend A&A Salvage to anyone who enjoys science fiction that has a completely ordinary setting.

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