Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When Stars Are Scattered, by Spencer Ellsworth

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(Exoplanetary SF) On planet Isach, the native Kites are enthusiastic converts to Islam, but they’re dying from a virus that the local Muslims suspect was planted by the neighboring Christian colony. (13,035 words; Time: 43m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Inspirational and Thought-Provoking

"," by (edited by Beth Meacham), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: It’s delightful the way all the pieces fit together in this story. Ahmed’s alcohol problem allows him to convince the Christian colonists that he’s not really a Muslim. Adéla’s charity to the Christian woman is rewarded when the woman speaks for them.

Ahmed doesn’t become a believer, but he opens his mind at the end to the idea that there might be something larger out there. Nor does Adéla lose her faith, but the loss of her child definitely weakens it. Ironically, the two of them are closer together than ever, even as they realize they’ll never be a couple.

The title and closing quotation come from the Quran 82:1-8. It means that on the day of judgment, everyone will be confronted with his or her good and evil deeds. This invites us to compare the Christian settlers, who refuse to face the facts and accept that the Kites are sentient, with the imam, who refuses to believe the evidence that the plague is natural even when faced with the evidence. No one is innocent in this story. No one except the Kites.

Con: It’s very hard to believe that the same virus could infect humans and aliens alike. Or that alien pheromones would work on humans the same way they worked on aliens.

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Spencer Ellsworth Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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