Karin Tidbeck, “Beatrice”

Jagannath book coverFranz falls in love with an airship named Beatrice. Anna falls in love with a steam engine named Hercules.

(from Jagannath)

Franz Hiller, a physician, fell in love with an airship. He was visiting a fair in Berlin to see the wonders of the modern age that were on display: automobiles, propeller planes, mechanical servants, difference engines, and other things that would accompany man into the future.

I forget what I read that made me want to pick up this collection by this Swedish author Id never read before, but I remember being promised weirdness and that’s what I got. I had a feeling that the humans at the center of “Beatrice” would not find contentment in their infatuations with their barely animate objects. After all, how will you know if an airship loves you back. How can you tell if a steam engine feels what you feel?

And the fact that these two aloof objects of affection are obsolete by modern standards — is that a sign their love is doomed? There’s a lot to think about and a lot left to the imagination in this very short story. should Franz have known better? Should Anna? Are they to blame how it all turns out?

“Beatrice” was turned into a piece of puppet theater, which sounds pretty awesome. You can read this story here, as part of a steampunk anthology. That makes some sense to me. 

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