The Lincoln Train
by Maureen F. McHugh
• Page count: 10
The Lincoln Train is an award winning alternate history short story by Maureen F. McHugh. It is about the people of a Southern town who are forcibly removed from their homes after the North wins the US Civil War.
None So Blind follows the story of Clara Corbett, a teen-aged girl from Mississippi who is being forcibly removed from the area by the government following the end of the Civil War. As she and other “recalcitrant Southerners” board the train that takes them to St. Louis, they begin to realize that perhaps everything will not turn out as the government claims it will.
This is the first story I have ever read by Maureen F. McHugh and I was quite impressed. Though it is very soft when it comes to how “science fictiony” it is, I found the author’s style to be nothing less than brilliant. Her descriptions of Clara’s feelings when she is being pushed by the throngs of people were excellent. If you enjoy US History, or just like reading extremely well written short stories, then put this on your “must read” list.
None So Blind won the 1996 Hugo Award and Locus Award for Best Short Story and was also nominated for the 1996 Nebula Award.
The train comes down the track, chuffing, coming slow. It is an old, badly used thing, but I can see that once it was a model of chaste and beautiful workmanship. Under the dust it is a dark claret in color. It is said that the engine was built to be used by President Lincoln, but since the assassination attempt he is too infirm to travel. People begin to push to the edge of the paltform, hauling their bags and worldly goods. I don’t know how I will get our valise on. If Zeke could have come I could have at least insured that it was loaded on, but the Negroes are free now and they are not to help. The notice said no family Negroes could come to the station, although I see their faces here and there through out the crowd.
Where you can find The Lincoln Train:
• The Lincoln Train originally appeared in the April 1995 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
• It was also collected in Maureen F. McHugh’s book Mothers & Other Monsters: Stories. (You can now legally download this entire book for free at the Small Beer Press web site. )
• You can also find The Lincoln Train in Gardner Dozois’s fabulous The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction.
Maureen F. McHugh, the author of The Lincoln Train, is orginally from Ohio, but has since received a Master’s degree in English Literature from New York and spent some time living in China. You can learn more about her by visiting her website.
If you liked this story you may also enjoy For Solo Cello, op.12 by Mary Robinette Kowal.