Review: “Sadness” by Timons Esaias

3 of 5 stars.

This speculative tale shows an alien race, the New People, wield a domineering control over humankind in the name of cultural preservation. It looks a lot like humans putting animals in zoos or possibly colonists bastardizing the traditions cultures and beliefs of natives peoples.

Aside from limiting the mobility of human populations, the visitors make many decisions about what is best for humankind and administer to it. The perfect human language: Sanskrit, though they also require humans to use sign language among themselves since they are bothered by the sound of human voices. Clothing: 16th Century Persia, robes and burnooses. Manners: extreme formalism ala 2nd Century Shansi mixed with 14th Century Japanese. Religion: The Wisdom, a mix of Islam, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism.

They control every aspect of human existence, but then let man be for long periods of time, not that they aren’t keeping surveillance.

One day a bookbinder gets the message that he will be visited by a New Person and the cage that is his life is rattled . . .

“Sadness” appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015 edited by Rich Norton and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in Analog, July/August 2014.

[Check out my other reviews here.]


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