Friday, October 19, 2012

"Procyon Descent": a Grim Future Tale of Hope

The idea that colonists from Earth will traverse the gulf between stars in generation ships to finally claim a new world is not new. But the backdrop is still rich with possibilities. Hardship will abound. "Procyon Descent" makes us wonder whether we today could fairly judge the actions of those that ultimately endure the traverse. Some find the story shocking, depressing or grim. I don't see it that way, but those things are there in a "Lord of the Flies" sort-of way. But I also see, at its core, sacrifice, determination and a ray of hope. Farther Stars Than These, edited by E.S. Wynn, agreed to publish the story story, and it has been well received. Of course, you can decide for yourself if the short tale is worth telling. It begins like this:
The day comes too soon. I work up the length of the crop terrace. My waist-high row is lined with scrawny beets sucking what they can from the muck of the nutrient stream. Across is a row of an old Earth grain called barley, followed by eight rows of sheet fungus and more rows of stuff we call food, lining the curved floor that turns up and out of sight behind the matching curved ceiling. It wraps around back to here, everything pressed to the floor by the spin of the ship that's been groaning under the strain for over 800 years. Or so it's told.
The lights wink.
"He's early," I complain.
Megan, two rows over, slows her gray-water flow to a trickle. "Just seems."
I gawk a moment, seeking her eye, just to confirm someone shares this feeling of being rushed. I see it's so. But it doesn't help.

You can see the rest of the story at Farther Stars Than These. For a list of all my stories online check here.

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