“Used Armor Smell”

Today you can pick up a copy of Dread Space, an anthology of flash length dark military science fiction stories. My story “Used Armor Smell,” about armor more rugged than its wearer, is included.

Cover of Dread Space

When choosing pronouns for nonbinary characters in the past, I’ve defaulted to they/them. It’s a somewhat lazy decision: most nonbinary folks I know use they/them, and as a reader and writer I find they/them more transparent than other sets of pronouns. But in this case, I decided to use Spivak pronouns. Partially, it’s about variety in my writing; on general principles, I should be employing different pronoun sets (including this one, which has been in use for decades). But here, it also serves the story.

My point-of-view character’s gender is completely irrelevant. However, this was a case where I specifically wanted to avoid “they.” Yes, singular they is in widespread use and has a long history as part of the English language. But sentient machines are common in science fiction, as is the merging of human and machine consciousnesses. I quite enjoy those explorations of sentience, but in this case I wanted to make it very explicit that the human is a human and the machine is a machine, a tool of humans, not an artificial intelligence.

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