epub The Chaplain's Legacy epub

by Brad R. Torgersen

Brad Torgersen's Hugo-nominated novelette, The Exchange Officers, was only so-so. This novella, though written in the same style, was quite a bit better as Torgerson had more time to develop the characters and the story.

Humans have been fighting a losing war against a superior alien race, insectoids known as the mantes. Just when humanity was facing extinction, a chaplain's assistant negotiated a reprieve thanks to a few mantes scientists who were fascinated by the human capacity for religious faith, something the mantes find completely unfathomable.

Now, years later, the mantes' Queen Mother has decided they've studied humans and their silly religions long enough, and it's time to finish them off. When the human fleet launches a surprise preemptive attack, the chaplain's assistant winds up stranded on a barren planet with another human officer, his mantes scientist friend, and the crippled Queen Mother.

This had the potential to get very preachy, but it wasn't. Contrary to what some of the kneejerk negative reviews have been saying, Torgersen's own beliefs don't seem to intrude into the narrative much, beyond a general sympathy towards the idea of religion as something that would still be practiced by humans even in a space-faring future, as opposed to the purely secular Star Trek universe. And if the ending involved the mantes suddenly "seeing the light," that would be an authorial anvil too big to swallow. Instead, spiritual experience as a common ground for the two species is introduced by way of analogy, and if the sequence of events is somewhat improbable, it did not stretch suspension of disbelief too much, nor is there any clear supernatural intervention.

This is a thoughtful piece of traditional science fiction. As an atheist, I find intelligent, non-preachy religion as a thing that humans actually do and will no doubt continue to do even if we go colonize other planets to be a topic that is not handled often enough, without reading like authorial screeds from either the pro- or anti-religion side. I also thought the aliens were alien without being completely incomprehensible.

I've seen a lot of 1 or 2 star reviews being handed out by people who didn't seem to actually read the story, just reacted in kneejerk fashion to who the author was. (If you are unaware, Brad Torgersen is loosely affiliated with a group of conservative SF authors who have stirred up the Hugos this year, provoking a lot of bleating, bleeding-heart outrage.) As far as I can tell, Torgersen is guilty of nothing more than being recommended on a few conservative blogs and being a Mormon himself.

This was not my favorite SF piece ever, but it was good enough that I'd read more by Torgersen. A nice solid 3.5 stars.

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File info

ISBN
Book Title
Book Author
PublisherAnalog Science Fiction & Fact
GanreScience Fiction
Release date 08.07.2013
Pages count58
eBook formatebook, (torrent)En
File size4.6 Mb
Book rating3.68 (133 votes)
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