SOLARIS RISING 2 Countdown To Launch (T minus 5 Days): Neil Williamson's favourite short story

In less than a week, Solaris Rising 2 will launch at Waterstones Gower Street in London where editor Ian Whates will be joined by authors Paul Cornell, James Lovegrove, David Mercurio Rivera, and Martin Sketchley, to talk about their contributions to this cosmic collection.

Solaris Rising 2 is jam-packed with SF short stories that explore man's efforts to leave this humble dot of blue in a sea of black, and all this week on the Solaris blog, we're talking about the short story form and our favourite examples of it from SF.

Next up is Neil Williamson...

"My favourite science fiction story? Well Loved by Ian R MacLeod. I grew up on a literary diet of horror and fantasy, and only came to SF later when I discovered Interzone. By the time I came across Well Loved, I was used to having my mind blown on a monthly basis, but this story affected me so deeply that, there and then, I decided I wanted to try writing short stories of my own. 

"Well Loved is not a gentle story. It features a brutal exchange between a prostitute and a client, aided by the use of body swap technology. Get your kicks being beaten up by a vastly more powerful man? There you go, knock yourself out. And once it's all over you can go back to your life (kiss your wife, give this lovely teddy bear to your daughter) without a mark on you, while this girl here nurses the injuries you paid her to inflict on her own body. Brutal. But it's the coda that gets you, the desperation to escape this life to a better, if limited, one. I suppose it's possible to read the story as overly simplistic, but for me MacLeod gets the balance of story telling power and emotional complexity just right.  

"I loved everything about this story: the domesticity of the setting, the typically Interzone-ish downbeat tone, the absence of preachiness or moralising and the absolute commitment to focus. With one strong SF idea and an uncluttered scenario to illuminate it, the story packs a hell of a wallop.

"Well Loved was republished in MacLeod's collection, Past Magic."

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