“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart was published in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. The story is posted here for free to read.
Alluvium is the name of a human settlement and the planet its on, a place close enough to Earth in habitat that colonists can live with just nano-infusions to balance out the few chemicals that are toxic to humans. Life is as good as it can be, until the Peshari (a lizard–like alien race) landed and conquered the human settlements. Cerna is one of the settlers still living under their oppressive rule. His friend, Keller, has become sick, since the Peshari took away their all-important nano-fabbers. Keller has taken an interest in the death rituals of the Peshari and how it differs from human death rituals.
Speaker for the Dead is the sequel to Ender’s Game. Ender’s Game was first a short story and then was expanded to a novel, and just last year was made into a movie. I reviewed the novel and the movie in a previous article. As usual I will try to avoid spoilers for the story being reviewed, but I’m not even going to try to avoid spoilers for Ender’s Game, so if you don’t want to find out some of what happens in that book then go read it and come back.
Recently I went to see the Ender’s Game movie, based on the 1985 novel by Orson Scott Card (who I interviewed here some time ago). They take place in a future decades after an invasion of insect-like aliens attacked Earth and nearly wiped out the human race. The last invasion was only repelled by the last-ditch effort of a master strategist which turned the tide of the war. Earth needs a new leader, a new master strategist, to lead this war effort, but no ideal candidate has stepped forward. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the orbital Battle School plucks the most promising children to train them in strategy, to see who will come out to be the best of the best and become the new master strategist that Earth needs. Ender is a third child, a rare on this planet with reproductive legislation that limits parents to two children to limit population growth–his parents were allowed to have a third because their first two children were very promising candidates but his older brother Peter was often uncontrollably violent and his older sister Valentine too empathetic to allow them to be viable candidates. Can Ender become the master strategist that Earth is hoping for? Will he be capable of doing what needs to be done to save humanity? Will his training break him?
Writing was ‘in the air’ in my house – my dad subscribed to Writer’s Digest, and as Mormons it was part of our culture to write sermons, essays, and even comic plays. So I always wrote and thought of writing as something regular people did all the time. But it wasn’t a career choice! I entered college as an archaeology major, but found I was spending all my time in the theatre department. So I changed majors. I started writing in order to fix plays (Flowers for Algernon, for instance, had a terrible second act, so with the director’s permission I wrote a new one based on the story and novel), and then to adapt novels for readers’ theatre productions.
I was raised in a family of storytellers. And when I say that, I mean that we put most voice actors and stand-up comedians to shame. You only have as much time as everyone plans on sitting around the dinner table, and you only have the floor for as long as your voice carries over everyone else’sÃ¢â‚¬so whatever you choose to impart to the group, it better be GOOD.