Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"A Dichotomy of Paradigms" by Mary Robinette Kowal

"A Dichotomy of Paradigms" by Mary Robinette Kowal 
This story was published in the anthology "Unbound", edited by Shawn Speakman. 
This is a fun story about a space pirate captain, Captain Dauntless, and an artist, named Patrick.  Captain Dauntless hired Patrick to paint a portrait of her while raiding a space ship that will soon be in the vicinity.  Before they intercept the hapless ship for a raid she questions Patrick on his skills as an artist. 
Patrick’s art specialty is painting scenes in motion.  He captures the mood and atmosphere of the moving objects.  He was hired to paint the raid while it was happening. 
Captain Dauntless happens to pull up a review of his art that called him a hack.  Patrick infuriated tries to persuade her that art is in the eye of the beholder and he was perfectly capable of doing a fine job.  Before she can object to anything else the review or Patrick might say the ship they are going raid arrives early.   
Patrick rushes to get his painting gear and goes aboard the ship as the pirates wreak havoc.  Just as he is starting to paint Captain Dauntless she grabs one of the victims and points a gun at her.  The victim happens to be Patrick’s art mentor, Lila Kirkland. 
Patrick doesn’t want any harm to come to his former mentor so he talks the captain into holding her pose with the gun pointed while he paints.  He then attempts to talk Captain Dauntless into not killing her because she is a friend and it would be a great favor to him.  He then tells the captain that she is a major influence in the art community.  If the captain were to leave Lila alive, Patrick assures the captain that her review of her portrait would go a long way.  Maybe even increase the price of the painting. 
Captain Dauntless then has the decision to make to kill Lila or not too kill her.  If she lives Patrick has to hope his painting is good, otherwise he could end up on the bad side of a pirate captain.  If he is right, and Lila goes along with the ploy they both might live to tell about it. 
I liked this story.  I like how it incorporates two things that you would never really put together in a million years.  I never would of thought of an artist assisting a space pirate captain.  That alone made this story fun to read.  It was even better that he had the ability to paint motion.  It is such a foreign concept to us of someone painting as action is taking place and yet it is used to capture death and destruction for the sole purpose of uplifting a captain to infamy. 
It is a short read, but well worth the time.  

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