Strange Horizons, 2 May 2005

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.
“Liberty Pipe” by Sarah Prineas
I pity Sarah Prineas for the research she did on "Liberty Pipe."  It’s set in a piping factory, mostly, where labor regulations and environmental ordinances aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. 

“There’s just one rule here: Keep the pipe rolling off the line. Don’t need to think about anything else, I guess.  KEEP THE PIPE ROLLING OFF THE LINE!”

The gruesome details add character and flavor to this story, which is exactly how I like my fiction; black and full-bodied.  What bothered me was that the payoff was kind of weak:  there weren’t nearly enough details about the other place that the factory found, even though Prineas hinted at a Faustian deal throughout .  It’s a place with a lot of beautiful people and a mechanical dragon that our hero has to defeat.  But why does he have to defeat it?  What does it mean for him personally?  As a reader I was left unsatisfied on that end note.  Sure, it’s inspiring that there are people out there who want to take on the Liberty Pipes of the world, but compared to the build-up, I found the resolution to be vague.