McIntosh closes the issue with a very strong story.
Once again a minor irritation with editor Sheila Williams as her introduction tells us what the story is about : “..the consequences for what’s left of humanity after a brutal alien invasion”. Granted McIntosh makes that quite clear fairly early on, but I’d prefer to let the author set the scene, not the editorial introduction.
And McIntosh sets the scene very well indeed, putting the reader deep inside the story immediately, with protagonist Aiden being given the task of explaining to those on a colony on Mars that they might be all that’s left of humanity after the aforementioned brutal alien invasion of Earth.
One of the strong points of the story is that Aiden is far from the usual heroic protagonist. He has a number of issues he is working through, some personality issues, and it’s a huge struggle for him to take on the various roles he has to play throughout the story. When he comes face to face with the aliens he has a bodily reaction that is entirely understandable, but rarely happens in SF. And part of the story arc is him heading back to Earth to find and rescue his relatives. (That doesn’t end well).
All in all, the story avoids standard tropes, is a bit bleak at times, but far away from, say, the ‘War of the Worlds’ with Tom Cruse, where he, his son, and cute daughter all survive against the odds and things are going to get back to normal fairly quickly. McIntosh ends with a future that is going to be anything but was has been the norm in the past.
I’m going to put the story on the shortlist for the Best SF Short Story Award 2015.
More from this issue here.