Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Nightingales in Plátres, by Natalia Theodoridou

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(Generation Ship) Captain Yánnis needs to get the ship moving again, and then God gives him a message. (5,194 words; Time: 17m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention
Recommended By: SFRevu+1

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 133, published on .

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

Pro: Yánnis’s faith in God ultimately seems to be validated, although it shows his god to be very terrible. The story does an excellent job of showing his love for his son, and there’s a great deal of tension leading up to the sacrifice, followed by a shattering shock when we realize he actually did it. That it succeeded (or appears to have) offers very cold comfort—to him and to us.

The ship is ironically named “Nostos,” which is the literary device of an epic hero returning by sea (e.g. Odysseus). The irony is that none of these people will return home.

The Nostos is stranded on a planetoid named “Aulis,” which is the port from which Agamemnon sailed the Greek fleet to besiege Troy. The goddess Artemis was angry with Agamemnon and prevented the fleet from leaving Aulis until Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter, Iphigenia.  Hence, Yánnis is like Agamemnon. (Not Abraham, whom God ordered to sacrifice his son, Isaac, but an angel prevented him at the last second.)

Con: It makes no sense whatsoever that a generation ship would get stranded on a planetoid.

It’s impossible to believe that the crew have so little control over their ship that they can’t even turn off the nightingale sounds. Nor does this affect the story in any way.

It’s odd that this is an alternate history story (in which Greece lands the first man on Mars in 1960). This also has no apparent effect on the story.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Blah -- I'd be tossing that icon out the airlock! And if the ship is self-sustaining, does it really matter how long they have to wait? Presumably a wave would eventually come, and it's not going to make much difference in the lives of the next couple generations anyway.