Birthday Reviews: Jayge Carr’s “The Lady or the Tiger”

Birthday Reviews: Jayge Carr’s “The Lady or the Tiger”

Cover by Jael
Cover by Jael

Jayge Carr was born Margery Ruth Morgenstern Krueger on July 28, 1940 and died on December 20, 2006.

In addition to her writing career, Carr worked as a nuclear physicist for NASA. Following her death from cancer, her remains were launched into orbit by Celestis.

“The Lady or the Tiger” was published by Charles C. Ryan in the Fall 1993 issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction after the magazine switched formats from a tabloid to a quarto format (standard magazine). The story has not been reprinted.

A missed stop of a city bus puts Alia in danger of being gang raped by a bunch of teenagers. When one of the teenagers momentarily objects, she is rescued by the timely arrival of the police, who take her savior into custody even as the other boys flee. In turn, Alia takes the boy under her wing and applies the Pygmalion treatment to him. However, as is quickly revealed, Alia is not what she appears and the situation is much more complex than anyone could guess.

All of Alia’s actions regarding Benny, as well as her responses to Rod O’Rourke, the police officer who first helped her and later wooed her, seem to be governed by a pair of aliens who are testing the humans. It eventually becomes evident that Alia is one of the aliens, trying to figure out if humans can subvert their own violent tendencies.

The resolution of Alia’s identity to the reader has an interesting impact on the story. Benny’s relationship with her isn’t changed particularly, and the reader still roots for Alia to succeed in changing. Alia’s relationship with O’Rourke, who would seem to be the real subject of the aliens’ test, on the other hands, becomes almost inconsequential, undercutting the emotional impact of the story.

Reviewed in its only publication in the magazine Aboriginal Science Fiction, edited by Charles C. Ryan, Fall 1993.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium” in Galaxy’s Edge. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7. He has been the news editor for SF Site since 2002.

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Rich Horton

Nice to see some love for Jayge Carr — I really enjoyed her work, and she never got a lot of notice, seemed to me.

Not too many other candidates today — Tim Lebbon, a well regarded horror writer (though I find his work a bit tiresome, exhibit A perhaps in the “I am not a horror reader” evidence pile), and Larry Dixon, and one intriguing candidate: Angelica Gorodischer, whom I will consider …

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