SCI FICTION, December 22, 2004

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"Luciferase" by Bruce Sterling

SciFictionBruce Sterling's short story, "Luciferase," is about a firefly named Vinnie, a far cry from the cyberpunk work that he's best known for. Vinnie, cruising the singles mating scene, laments with his friend Peck, a jumping spider, on the vagaries of love.  Although Peck needs to be frequently reminded that fireflies are poisonous, and therefore Vinnie is inedible to the likes of him, they're close chums, sharing their tales of courtship, conquest, and woe.  Peck yearns to be a one-woman spider, but can't find the she-spider of his dreams who will consent to devour him, and Vinnie flits from one shallow-but-gratifying relationship to another, yearning all the while for something more meaningful, something profound.

"Luciferase" is a tongue-stuck-firmly-in-cheek treatise on the nature of relationships and what we are compelled to do in the name of love. It's also a delightfully quirky rumination on the meaning of life, art and self-expression, and sex–with talking insects.  Mustn't forget the talking insects.

Think A Bug's Life or Antz, but with depth and droll wit. Highly recommended.