An SF meditation on the meaning of marriage, Triptych works by showing us a marriage which is not a marriage – one which inspires loathing in all sorts of people – and yet turns out to be one.
We begin (rather unpromisingly) with a pleasant day on an Ontario dairy farm, a day on which an spaceship crashes into our front yard and its pilot attempts to murder our infant daughter. A pair of special forces operatives – dressed in black, of course – arrive just in time to shoot the alien and save the daughter. One of those operatives is that daughter, now almost thirty, who has travelled back in time to save herself.
This complex setup gives way to a set of nicely drawn portraits of several marriages. We have the young agents, who are partnered but not married. We have the parents. We have the space aliens, who are likable and helpful refugees from an interstellar disaster who turned up on our doorstep and to whom earth has offered asylum. They’ve got some nice ideas – they have spaceships, after all. And they have some interesting ideas too, including the notion that marriage is between three adults. After all, if there are 24 (or, back home, 31) hours in the day, you need three shifts of keep an eye on the baby.
A Rose Fox suggestion from Readercon 2011. This year’s Readercon runs July 12-15.