Friday, August 24, 2007

Darja Malcolm-Clarke's "The Beacon": Background sketch of an aliens' story series

Interesting aliens - broadly familiar, but with weird twists. The environment is less interesting - primarily because I could not quite visualize it - not enough information.

This might make an interesting background for a series of stories. But as a story in its own right, it doesn't quite pack the punch.

Full text of this story is available online.

Story summary.
Aliens we meet are mostly familiar - for aliens:

  1. Two sexes - male & female. Though females are referred to as "he" & males as "she". There is also role reversal - males tend to home needs, females do the worldly things.
  2. Children are fed breast milk by females who have a "row of teats".
  3. Children are not born whole. Females lay eggs after getting impregnated by males; then males tend to eggs till the kids are born.
  4. Kids are luminescent. This is a key feature of the story.
The unnamed location where the story is set is not greatly described except that the "city cannot expand out, it is built ever upward".

Khalreg Cumulesce is some kind of an airport. A lighthouse locates it visually to approaching airships. And the lighthouse emits its light from the luminescent kids of our aliens, who are apparently stationed in the top room of tower! This is how the story gets its title.

Sun is apparently undergoing major changes, & mother is afflicted with "sunpoison". Her milk has dried up, & the kids are dying of hunger.

Story is of mother's worries about the fate of her kids.

Fact sheet.
The Beacon, short story, review
First published: Clarkesworld magazine, Aug 2007
Rating: C