Trouble and Her Friends Critical Essays

Melissa Scott


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Melissa Scott’s Trouble and Her Friends is a bright and bouncy science-fiction adventure that consciously compares the environment created by the computer net to the mythologized wild and woolly West, deliberately using the traditional Western trappings as a template within which Scott can explore her themes of homosexuality and freedom. As in a standard Western, Scott’s net encompasses vast spaces and is peopled with outlaws, sheriffs, and bystanders. On Scott’s net, however, the outlaws are the netwalkers, who are forced to obey the new rules when law and order sweeps through town.

The netwalkers Trouble and Cerise deal with have banded together and think of themselves as a “gang,” a protective bonding that is practically forced on them by their outcast status as homosexuals. This gang is both responsible for and capable of policing its own members, but the outside world does not accept this and so creates unnecessary laws to persecute these free spirits.

In Scott’s world, not only are homosexuals considered different, but because they are more willing to take risks, they also prove to be far better than the “straights” at technological games. When Trouble beats the mayor during the virtual showdown in Seahaven, she proves that she is the best on the net. Although it should follow that the mayor, who is said to be “keeping” a young boy, is homosexual, it is made clear that he is not. This clarity is necessary so...

(The entire section is 453 words.)