A review of a short story today: When the Fleet Comes by G. Scott Huggins.
I wanted something different, a story that didn’t follow traditional paths in sf. Here we have a fresh take on the “Stranger in a Strange Land” scenario, a man on an alien world surrounded by its native inhabitants (only this time he isn’t the only one). This one has aliens, creepy but not too creepy, just enough to be different. I liked the way the aliens, the Hrredin, are different in subtle ways: Huggins drops in enough hints to show this is a very alien planet with very alien inhabitants, but not so much to crowd out the story with unnecessary detail. He paints a vivid picture with a few fine brushstrokes, letting us know only what we need to know, and inviting us to fill in extra detail as we see fit. I like this talent in a writer, letting the reader take a part in the creative process.
As Sean, our protagonist, works his way through an unusual (and long) day he encounters people and events that raise questions about some all too human problems and traditions. Racial prejudice, the plight of immigrants, the nature and value of faith and the relentless need to preserve one’s species at all cost, including at the sacrifice of personal dignity and ambition, all receive treatment here, and Huggins is careful enough not to provoke us with one-sided answers.
One of my reactions to a story is “would I read this again”? Is it captivating, thought-provoking, and just plain important enough for me to want to go through it at least one more time?
The answer with “When the Fleet Comes” is an emphatic yes.
Russell Proctor http://www.russellproctor.com
You can purchase a copy of the story here: When the Fleet Comes.