by Graeme Ing
Published on: January 17, 2016
In short, Mass Transit is a terrific science fiction short story that hit all the right notes with me. This well crafted story was entertaining as we see a new and different way to handle traffic at Atlanta with an interesting conflict between the protagonist and antagonist that continues to build up to a satisfying conclusion.
Mind over matter is more than a cliche.
Controlling starships with her mind is all Emily ever dreamed of. Her graduation from the Telekinesis Traffic Control Academy is assured, unless Dylan, an irritating and cocky fellow student, ruins it for her.
The utmost concentration is essential to land a ship from orbit. When Dylan’s jealousy turns to sabotage, thousands of people will die if Emily can’t keep him out of her head. But which of them has the stronger mind?
Going in, I was a little worried about how “far-out” this sci fi story would be due to how I perceived the cover. I freely admit I have judged a book by its cover a time or two. This particular cover seemed to have a little too much going on with an abstract-type look to it that made me a little wary. But I love when my fears and concerns have no foundation because this story engaged me emotionally and intellectually as I watched the antagonist play mental games out of pure jealousy and spite.
At only 34 pages, this story packs quite a lot in this thrill ride. First there is Dylan, the jealous fellow student, who can literally get inside someone’s head to taunt and harass them. Then there is the emotional and mental strain Emily faces in making sure she passes the academy.
One of my initial concerns before reading this story was whether a story about telekinesis would be interesting to the reader. Telekinesis has always been an interesting topic to watch on TV or the movies, but because it is all internal I’ve always had the impression that it can be a difficult topic to read as well as probably write. How do you set up a good conflict for telekinesis that is interesting, heart-pounding, and that readers can understand? In Mass Transit, Graeme Ing provides us with a situation where thousands of people have their lives in the hands of traffic controllers who guide landings by just their minds. So although the trainee work is done within her mind, she performs her duties within an official organization with rules and regulations that provide the parameters in which she can work.
I highly recommend this short story to sci fi fans. Sometimes I like a book, but am glad when the ride is over. But sometimes, like this one, I am ready to continue reading about what comes next with Emily or Dylan or Atlanta Traffic Control.
Mass Transit is also included in the Anthology, Mayhem in the Air.