The Broken Plate Recommends

AOL: ASTEROIDS ONLINE and The Complexities of Star-Crossed Space Rocks by Mia Basso

It’s safe to say the human condition is a rich source of multi-faceted, in-depth exploration. We’re constantly struggling to make sense of ourselves, those around us and the things that tie us together. Writing is a powerful way to explore these concepts and experiences which shape us and our understanding of the world. The Broken Plate is dedicated to providing a platform for those different voices. One thing I always find fascinating is when a piece of writing is able to address the human condition from an entirely different angle. All this to say, I read a flash fiction piece about asteroids falling in love and I really enjoyed it.  

Based loosely on a real-life astronomical event back in 2011, Anissa Lynne Johnson’s AOL: ASTEROIDS ONLINE follows the story of two asteroids, 12818 Tomhanks and 8353 Megryan, as they develop a relationship over AOL and agree to meet in person, figuratively, near Earth. This story is hilarious. I just wanted to get that out of the way. It’s dripping with tongue-in-cheek humor, full of personality and takes full advantage of its bizarre premise, even alluding to the classic Tom Hanks’ movie, You’ve Got Mail. However, this lighthearted tone does little to dampen the emotionally charged gut punch that the ending delivers. Any reader well versed in the missed connections of celestial bodies may already know how this story concludes, but AOL: ASTEROIDS ONLINE is still able to infuse so much meaning into it.  

AOL: ASTEROIDS ONLINE is a humorous look into the hypothetical romantic efforts of space debris, but there is so much more to appreciate about it than just its strange premise. What really got me the most was how this lighthearted story was able to subtly tap into deeper themes and ideas that address aspects of the human condition. Themes of deep longing for connection, the complexities of long-distance relationships and how the interference of forces beyond our control affect our relationships are all present here. There’s a surprising amount of emotional vulnerability hiding beneath this flash fiction’s irreverent exterior. The final lines are especially poignant, and I just had to soak them in a few times my first read through. The level of personification given to the two space rocks lend an incredible amount of metaphorical mileage to the story’s events. This, in turn, allows readers to create a broad range of different interpretations.  

The Broken Plate aims to bring to light the individual experiences that shape us and give us a greater understanding of ourselves and those around us. I thought this story was a unique example of taking this concept and doing something delightfully strange with it. There’s so much to love from the lighthearted humor and clever writing to the greater underlying themes. It’s a fun romp into the lives of two asteroids, but also an exploration of the difficulty of making lasting connections. I highly recommend giving it a read here!