Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Starship and the Temple Cat, by Yoon Ha Lee

Ugg by Florent Llamas
[BCS]
★★★★☆ Clever and Emotional

(Future Fantasy) Even the ghosts have abandoned the ruins of the space station once known as the City of High Bells. All but the faithful temple cat, who sees a starship reenter the system after many long years. (3,499 words; Time: 11m)


"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 244, published on .

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

Pro: The cat intends to preserve her temple against attack, and never mind that neither Spectral Lance nor the fleet of hunters has any interest in her. She remembers how she died trying to ring the bells that might have protected the temple, and, after all this time, she finally accomplishes it, raising the legions of dead who really can defeat the hunters.

Spectral Lance, the other key character, has simply come to find a good place to die. Ironically, it was she who actually destroyed the City of High Bells. With the destruction of the hunters, she can offer a place to the cat and the other dead, and so earns absolution.

Con: There are a few logical inconsistencies. If the bells had such power, why did all the bell ringers die in the original attack? And if it were this easy to attack the Fleet Lords, why did no one do it before?

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Yoon Ha Lee Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This was a perfect fit for the issue's science-fantasy theme. And the ghost space cat was wonderfully characterized.

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  2. I love it. 5-stars from me. The first few lines just grabbed me.

    I read it a few months back, read your review, and got around to reading it again recently. This story easily survived a re-read.

    Regarding your cons, the story implies that 78 was a very long-lingering ghost cat. Secondly, the enemy magicians did not apply their magic to cats.

    It did seem to me that the enemy were very lucky on their shooting OR had good intelligence so knocked out the bells or knocked them enough to stop them from fully working.

    So with 78 lingering for so long, she outlasted the magic of the enemy and was able to wake up her fellow temple ghosts. 78 was a temple cat after all.

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    Replies
    1. There's something extra special about one who is weak but determined managing to accomplish something great. And you really can't go wrong with a kitty cat. :-)

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