Jay Lake. The Stars Do Not Lie. (Asimovs, October/November 2012)

asimovs121011A story that is nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula, and it’s currently online on the Asimovs site, so I would suggest you read the PDF.

Lake frequently covers religion and faith in his excellent blog in which he identifies himself as a “low church atheist” (‘not of that mindset that seeks to deconvert others or discredit religion’), in which I (for the record) identified myself as a ‘high church atheist’ (‘advocates strongly against religion in all its forms’).

That said, let’s get on talking about Lake’s story. It’s the second time in two years that an SF story majoring on religion and faith has been doubly nominated, with Eric James Stone’s ‘That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made’ winning the Nebula. That Analog story left me unmoved when I initially read it (review here), and bemused when I re-read it as a Nebula winner, on account of it’s being some way short of what I believe you would need in terms of literary merit and storytelling to win that award.

Anyhoo, Lake’s story is some way stronger than Stone’s. Lake’s story has a veneer of steampunk about it, a Victorian setting with electricks making some changes to society. He places some intriguing characters in each camp – the opening sentence introducing “Morgan Abutti; B.Sc. Bio.; M.Sc.Arch.; Ph.D.Astr.& Nat, Sci.; 4th degree Thalassocrete;Member, Planetary Society; and Association Fellow of the New Garaden Institute…..”

Abutti has found something in the stars that entirely debunks the creation myth in his society, and somewhat naively, his plan to reveal all in front of his scientific colleagues leads him into big trouble. The story progresses through multiple perspectives of the protagonists (perhaps a slight failing in the story, as it crams a lot into a little space).

There’s more than a touch of Paul Di Filippo about the story (a good thing), with descriptions and settings similar to the excellent Linear City stories by PDF. There’s a dramatic ending – perhaps too dramatic if you were to quibble to the nth degree, as things happen very quickly. It’s a story that you’d want to see Lake being able to turn into a full length novel. We’d very, very much like to see Lake being able to turn it into a full length novel…

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