3 of 5 stars.
A recurrent theme in literature, since Noah had the wherewithal to build a boat, is people with connections, fame or money avoiding the disasters affecting the masses. The deciding factor of who lives and who dies runs the gamut from dumb luck to calculated genocide. The would-be survivors huddle in their boats, or retreat behind walls, or lock themselves into underground bunkers, or launch themselves toward the stars. And then they wait. And sometimes, watch.
This short tale follows 3 survivors on the observation deck of a star cruiser watching as the Earth vaporizes. Pickets toasts the occasion and cracks a few jokes. He’s bought his ticket, or rather part of the starship itself. Fida is wealthy or famous. And Jawry . . . is a poet that would have gone up in vapor if not for being Fida’s lover and charity case. He, too, cracks jokes between spouting sentimental lines. Fida is nostalgic on this occasion, and almost contemplative about the thousands of millions dead. Mostly, she’s sad about the pandas.
Pickets enjoys grand gestures and fleeting moments of intense experience. For hours, he tracks from window to window to capture the multi-colored show in Earth’s wake. He cannot get enough of it, until it passes beyond visibility range. Then, he has a surprise for Fida that awaits in a Cultivation Bay amid a bamboo grove . . .
This contest-winning tale appears in Writers of the Future 32 edited by David Farland. It’s illustrated
by contest-winning artist, Camber Arnhart. I received this new anthology from Netgalley.
[Check out my other reviews here.]