by Lucinda Thorne, futuristic (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $4.90, ISBN 978-1-59578-376-9

Unavoidably, her eyes tracked down over his firm chest and stomach, then lower. His cock was large, semi-erect, and unmistakably tattooed with the six-digit identification number that all federal prisoners bore. 5638BA. She recalled a conversation with one of the old-timers when she first started the detail - they tattooed male prisoners there because it was the only body part they wouldn’t rip off to avoid identification.

Thank you, Lucinda Thorne, for that most edifying image.

In Containment, the spacecraft At First Sight is about eight months from their destination, a penal colony called Siberius X. Our heroine Lai has just awaken from her two-month sleep in the cryogenic chamber to relieve her partner Halli for the next two months as he goes to sleep. Lai has been troubled by erotic dreams featuring one of the prisoners they are carrying, Jensenn Mal. In case you are wondering why only two humans are onboard a craft full of mad and bad criminals forced to sleep in cryogenic chambers, it's because nothing is supposed to go wrong and the criminals are not supposed to awaken until they reach Siberius X. The AI of At First Sight is supposed to take care of everything. Nothing will go wrong.

Until our heroine decides that she has to open Mal's cryogenic chamber to touch the man here and there. You can imagine what will happen next, I'm sure. The author tries to give a reasonable justification for Lai's action later in the story, but I wonder how many readers will stick around to discover this reason.

If I overlook this WTF moment from the heroine, I'd say that Containment is a beautifully nearly cheese-free (at least, when we are not talking about the hero's sexual prowess, that is) space adventure. The story really feels as if it is set in space. The author has set up the atmosphere perfectly. Even Lai's relationship with Mal is well paced to the point that I find myself buying what they have. There is a plot in this short story, complete with build-up towards a climax and a resolution.

Apart from that sticky point of Lai and Mal's cryogenic chamber, Containment is an entertaining self-contained story that works very well. I can't help wishing that it's a longer story, but I'm pretty pleased with what it is.

Rating: 86

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