Title: A Symposium in Space
Subtitle: A Feast of Words
Author: K.S. Trenten
Publication Date: March 25, 2019
Publisher: Nine Star Press
Pages: 22, 784 words
Genre: Ambient science fiction
Blurb: Phaedra and her lover, Pausania are invited to a dinner party. Only this won’t be like any party Phaedra has ever been to. Nor does Pausania want her to go. Phaedra is determined, even if she has to find her own way to this symposium in space. A fateful encounter with the spaceship of her dreams and the wandering philosopher, Sokrat, lead Phaedra to a unique gathering of individuals where thoughts of love are offered up…and consumed.
Tagline: The party continues in a decadent matriarchal future where the guests may find themselves eating their words…literally.
The invitation resembled an eyeball.
A floating, pink orb drifted up to the open panels of Pausania’s apartment and fixed me with its lidless stare.
I froze, unsure how to react. An unfashionable citizen of the Intergalactic Democracy, I still ran around in a vest with pocket protectors, unfamiliar with the latest technology. The bobbing globe made me think of tales of magic from Ancient Earth.
“Phaedra, beloved of Pausania.” A melodic voice, filled with sly suggestion, came from the orb. “I’d be very pleased if you and your lover would attend my symposium in space.”
“A symposium?” I murmured, confused by the archaic word. It conjured more images of Ancient Earth, but this time of our patriarchal past. An era when those who looked down at you were referred to as patronizing rather than matronizing.
Such barbarism was behind us. A new democracy had spread out from Ancient Earth, across space, freeing women from their former bondage to male thoughts and ideas.
The only problem was this democracy was dominated by the wealthy and the powerful, just as too many societies had been in the past. They controlled the spaceways, spamming the universe with their advertising. Their shining, three-dimensional billboards and oversized spacecrafts were everywhere, dominating the skyline.
It was more than a little annoying.
“A symposium is nothing more than a dinner party.” Melodic and laced with sarcasm, my paramour’s voice floated into the room before she made her appearance.
Swallowing a sigh, I turned to face Pausania.
She glided into the room with a lazy grace, loose leggings swishing around her slender limbs. As always, she managed not to drag the tassels at the ends of them across her floor. The pants matched the fawn-colored blouse she wore. Tawny beads weighed down the edges of the tunic.
Pausania’s attire was usually a compromise between fashionable and comfortable. Her blouse complemented her auburn hair, falling in thick, luxuriant waves over her shoulders.
Those russet tresses were coarser than they looked. They still yielded to brushes, combs, or my worshipful fingers. Tiny strands of copper mingled with the auburn locks, giving her head a halo’s gleam.
It wasn’t natural. Very little about Pausania was natural. She still made everything about her appearance seem artless and unfeigned.
A pity the same wasn’t true of her personality.
She stalked toward the orb, carrying a wine glass in one hand. It tilted precariously, threatening to drip its contents upon her elaborately patterned rug.
This irritated me. I’d got her that furnishing, saved up my meager pennies from poetry readings and space runs to see that she had something special to adorn her apartment. True, she’d never shown more than a temporary admiration for its beauty, but her casual contempt was like a slap in the face.
“Phaedra has no interest in your shallow attempts to feed on her emotions, Agathea.” Pausania waved a hand at the orb.
“Agathea?” I swallowed at hearing her name.
Agathea of one of the wealthiest, most prominent citizens of the Intergalactic Democracy. One who could arrange to have my poems broadcast over the biggest billboards that glowed in major cities on major planets.
“The Agathea?” I asked for clarity. “The third-time winner of the Tragedy award? The one who funds and owns most worlds’ rights to the image of Aphrodite?”
“Once again, you’re showing your naiveté, your complete lack of any galactic sensibility.” Pausania glanced upward at the ceiling. Perhaps she was asking the ancient goddesses to give her strength. “There’s only one Agathea. No one else can use her name without incurring a fine as epic as her tragedies.” She smacked her slim hand against her forehead. “Next you’ll be calling life givers women.”
“Huh?” I opened and closed my mouth. “Why would I call women life givers?”
“You may call it a lack of galactic sensibility. I call it a charming display of innocence.” The orb throbbed in midair, quivering with hungry intensity. “Pausania, I simply must have the two of you at my symposium.” A slight note of menace entered the voice. “Do you truly wish to shun my company? I’m collecting guests exalted enough to impress even one as cynical as yourself.”
“Exalted isn’t how I’d describe your collections.” Pausania waved her free hand in languid dismissal. “You’re all about the latest trends. You never touch anything that questions or casts them in an unflattering light.”
“Ah, but would I be inviting Sokrat if that were true?” A sly tone laced with humor emitted from the mechanical device.
I wondered if Agathea had given it her voice. What projected from the orb was such a caressing, sensual tone. It rivaled Pausania’s own for the levels of malice it could deliver, wrapped in a disguise of courtesy. I wasn’t used to this level of complexity in a simple communicator, but I was behind the times. Or so Pausania kept telling me.
Perhaps she was right. I had no idea who Sokrat was.
Pausania did, judging from the way her eyes widened. “Sokrat? How did you manage to persuade her to come?”
“I believe she welcomes an escape from the affections of her overly enthusiastic beloved. Thus she will be honoring us with her presence at this gathering, along with Aristophania.”
At least I’d heard of Aristophania. Her webcasts were hilarious, although Pausania and others muttered that she was quite dated and stale in her routines.
“Sokrat and Aristophania.” What appeared to be an eyelid lowered in a coy fashion over the orb while regarding Pausania. “You cannot accuse either of them of being simply what’s trending.”
“No, I can’t.” Pausania lowered her hand to knot it into a fist at her hip. “Which makes me wonder what you could possibly want with those two cantankerous old life givers. Not to mention Phaedra and myself.”
“I plan to reveal that to all of you…if you come.” The ball moved away to hover in the open window. “I hope curiosity will temper caution.”
The orb moved away from the window, gaining speed when it took to the sky.
Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/
Amazon: A Symposium In Space
Author Biography: K.S. Trenten lives in the Silicon Valley of California with her husband, two cats, and a host of characters in her head, all wanting attention.
K.S. Trenten’s links
Archive of Our Own: http://archiveofourown.org/users/rhodrymavelyne
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten
Nine Star Press Author Page: https://ninestarpress.com/authors/k-s-trenten/
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