Title: The Solstice Pudding
Collection: When Holidays Attack – Mischief Corner Books’ 2019 Holiday Collection
Author: Angel Martinez
Genre: Holiday, Sci Fi, Comedy, Lesfic
LGBTQ+ Category: FF Lesbian
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
About The Book
Chief Engineer Shandi Leavenworth has been crushing on Major Tyra Sur ever since she joined station staff, though the laconic customs officer doesn’t give up personal information easily. A few scraps of information leads Shandi to the perfect Solstice present, until of course everything goes horribly wrong.
Major Sur took the job on Onwa Station for the stability, the quiet, and out of a need to be useful. It’s been all of those things up until the woman she’s been quietly flirting with at the bar puts in a desperate call for help. There’s no question they need to save the station, but Tyra’s not so sure about saving their budding relationship.
Another winter season, another great lesbian holiday sci fi tale from Angel Martinez.
The Solstice Pudding owes a debt to Martinez’s holiday tale from 2017, “Safety Protocols for Human Holidays”, which like “Solstice Pudding” is a lesbian love story set in space and filled with wonderfully awkward, comedic moments.
From there the two tales diverge.
Shandi is a relationship wrecker – her own, usually – and has taken a liking to Tyra, head of the station’s biological customs and a battle-scarred veteran with wreckage of her own.
Shandi decides to get Tyra a solstice gift, hoping to snag the Major’s notice, but in the aftermath of the acquisition from a less-than-savory source, things go quickly downhill for both of them.
Martinez is a master of the small details of life among alien species, and she does not disappoint here. From the adorable ussi (the aforementioned gift) to Teg the four armed fekra, each non-human creature is beautifully thought out and described, their very alienness serving to underlie their underlying humanity – how much more the same as us they are than different.
But the aliens on the crew take a back seat to the human protagonists, and Martinez plays with the slow burn between them beautifully, providing a number of on-again off-again moments mostly fueled by Tyra’s own past and reticence to let anyone too close again.
Tyra’s character reminded me most of Darius Valstad from Martinez’s recent “The Mage on the Hill” – both are severely emotionally damaged, and its up to others to slowly draw them out of their shells.
The tension mounts, and when she hits the main action sequence, head of the station’s biological customs and a battle-scarred veteran with wreckage of her own. (and we her readers) fly along on a wild chase that will give you whiplash with all of its twists and turns.
But the humor is never far behind. I’ll share this one little nugget that made me explode into laughter (seriously, still cleaning spittle from my computer screen):
Apparently, hats are extra delicious.
“The Solstice Pudding” is a fantastic, comedic sci fi romp with a great romantic plot that will drag you along cheerfully for the ride, and leave you grinning and breathless by the end.
Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.