Thursday, November 5, 2009
Novelette by Alexis Glynn Latner
Human colonists flee Earth's ecological problems and try to colonize Planet Green. A planet mysteriously free of the large life forms or resources that were expected on a world covered with plant life. It seems everything was mined out millennia ago by the same advanced species that moved the planet's moon. They discover an ancient cave with a giant fossilized bird. It turns out these birds were sentient and on the walls of caves they discover a written history of the bird people.
The ship's quirky AI (possibly damaged by the long journey) translates the ancient writing into a fanciful tale with dragons, trolls, and witches. The story primarily follows the protagonist's attempt to decipher the history of the bird people from this odd translation and what history the scientists on the expedition can piece together.
It is quite a good fairy tale. A bird named Wander, and a bird of a different species named Quickclaw set out from their home which is being destroyed by a rising ocean (thanks to the aforementioned moon-movers). They fly over the mountains in search of a new home and then have to return and help their people survive the journey. Parallels to the colonists' situation abound.
Between excerpts of the fairy tale/history we learn about the colonists struggles to survive and find enough resources to set up a real civilization. There is a lovely little lesson about cooperation and not recklessly disregarding other species, set against one of the more complicated backgrounds I've ever seen for a frontier-type setting. 4.5 sentient birds were harmed in the making of this fairy tale.