Lady Doctor Wyre
by Joely Sue Burkhart, futuristic (2011)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-390-2
Set in a futuristic setting that has its influences from Earth as we know it, where society is matriarchal and all the world's most renowned scholars and politicians are women, the ménage à trois romp Lady Doctor Wyre tells the story of Charlotte Wilder who is in a bit of a romantic dilemma. Sheriff Gilead Masters of Queenstown in the Americus colony wants to marry her, but he has no idea that "Miss Charlotte" was the infamous Duchess of Wyre who was a refugee from the law, wanted by the Brittanium empire. She faked her death with the aid of the assassin Sigmund Regret, who also shares her bed, and had spent the last seven years hiding from the Empire in this colony.
I've deliberately tried to keep the synopsis as vague as possible because Lady Doctor Wyre is a story that works best when the reader is unspoiled and learns the twists and turns of the plot as she turns the pages. The setting, which is Earth transformed into an Empire with countries turned into planet colonies, is intriguing, and the characters, for a short story, are actually well developed considering the limitations of the short story format. While I am not convinced that the characters are in love, they get along just fine in this story. What I like though is how the ménage à trois makes sense in this story considering the context of the setting, and how the author takes the trouble to show me how the two men care for Charlotte and how she for them, instead of relying of cheap gimmicks like "two weird gay guys from outer space who needs a human woman to make them whole" or something equally ridiculous.
The only trouble with Lady Doctor Wyre is that it is, in many ways, an ambitious story that is too "big" to be compressed into a short story. By the last page, I can't help feeling that this story should have been longer so that the setting and the characters, all of which are interesting, could have been developed into something more vibrant and colorful. As it is, it is an interesting and different kind of story that is worth my while, but a part of me will always wish that it is a bit more than that.
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