REVIEW: “Candida Eve” by Dominica Phetteplace

Review of Dominica Phetteplace, “Candida Eve”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact May/June (2020): 96–101 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Contains spoilers.

Susana is the last surviving member of a terraforming expedition to Mars. An unexpected fungal pandemic claimed the rest of the crew while on flight, in addition to claiming millions of lives back on Earth. Despite the tragedy, Susana must find the courage and will to carry out her mission and create a new home for the future of humanity.

The story’s subject matter — i.e. a deadly pandemic — certainly makes it a relevant read at the time of publication (I’m guessing that is why it was included in this issue). There are startling similarities between the plague in Candida Eve and Covid-19. I’d be very surprised if all of it was just a coincidence.

Aside from that initial impact, however, “Candida Eve” leaves a lot to be desired. The prose is clear but relatively dry, making for a less than engaging read. Almost half the story consists of info-dumping about the details of Susana’s mission and the unexpected pandemic that devastated humanity. There’s little that actually happens in the story, and by the end, little gets resolved in a satisfying manners. There’s little sense that Susana overcame any of the challenges of her mission as she displays very little agency throughout the story.