This story was released via the Escape Pod podcast, and is available for both listening and reading.
The concept of the story is fairly simple: a space pirate wishes to make money by transferring “leeches”, which are human beings with the natural ability to both transfer and absorb energy from any source. This makes the people both very dangerous in space, yet they are very desirable. Titan is a pirate captain who is transporting this group of leeches to a buyer. however, one of the leeches escape, and attempts to cause trouble, and the captain isn’t happy.
The story is a normal straightforward action tale. One of the characters does have a unique ability that makes him unbeatable. But you could almost predict what was going to happen.
The interesting element of this story is it’s attempting to explore the concept of identity. How the author does this is leave the origins of leeches unknown? Are they born into it? Do they develop it? Is it connected to scientific experiments? It’s hard to say. But the one thing we can say is that this unique ability causes the world to demonize leeches as a whole. But is this demonization a fear of the unknown, or is it because of the actions of one psychotic leech who overreached? it’s hard to say. But the one thing we can say is that while the abilities of a leech are dangerous, that doesn’t mean that every leech is out to kill you.
This kind of identity is one that we as people often rely on. Multiple characters make assumptions about another’s identity, and in doing so, they underestimate, or misunderstand a situation. They suddenly attract trouble, and voila, the plot moves on. If Titan were to act with more of a logical thought process, he may have discovered the culprit faster, and thus avoided the unnecessary death and violence that would come with it.
Overall, “Leech Run” is a great story by Scott W. Baker, which does a grand exploration of that all-important element of identity.