Short Story Review: THIS CHANCE PLANET, by Elizabeth Bear



(click on the link to read the story online)


We are alone, absolutely alone on this chance planet: and, amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us.

— Maurice Maeterlinck


This quote before the actual story had me puzzled for a while, until I understood its meaning some way into the tale, one that’s set in Moscow in what sounds like the near future.  Petra is living with her musician boyfriend Ilya, he spending his days with a band of hopefuls looking for success, she working as a waitress in a cocktail bar.  It’s clear from the very start that this is not a happy, fulfilling relationship, nor a balanced one, since Petra is the one supplying most of the income and paying the rent, while Ilya is the one dreaming of one get-rich-quickly scheme after another, all of them leading nowhere.

The kind of man Ilya is appears clearly from one of Petra’s considerations: “Decent chocolate was becoming less a luxury and more of a complete rarity. And what I could make last for two weeks of careful rationing, Ilya would eat in five minutes and be pissed off I hadn’t had more.”   Ilya’s latest idea is that of supplying one’s body as a sort of incubator for growing new organs from stem cells and selling them to those rich enough to afford them – and of course Petra should be the incubator, because Ilya cannot afford to lose his good looks in view of a stage appearance. A true, caring gentleman, indeed…

The chance encounter on the Metro with a dog gifted with superior intelligence will lead Petra to an unpleasant discovery, but also to the much-needed push to change the direction of her life, one where she can be her own woman and fulfill her own dreams. But what truly comes to light here is the renewed bond of friendship and mutual assistance between humans and dogs, something I can really appreciate even though I don’t share my life with one of our best four-legged friends: just reading about this particular dog’s antics in helping Petra brought a huge smile to my face, and I’m certain it will do the same to you.

A perfect, feel-good story if there ever was one…



My Rating:

10 thoughts on “Short Story Review: THIS CHANCE PLANET, by Elizabeth Bear

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