Written World Communications just released the first issue of Other Sheep, a faith-friendly print magazine of speculative fiction, and it includes one of my short stories, “Pilgrimage.”
Miranda is a young ambassador who had high expectations of our first contact with an alien race. Cheering crowds, media coverage, the admiration of her peers…instead, she’s monitoring a bizarre religious rite in the pasturelands of western Wisconsin conducted by aliens who are everything she didn’t expect. There are no cheers, no reporters, no other human beings within a hundred-mile radius:
The workers were all in formation now, their attention focused on a high-caste Ztekk fluttering overhead. It scattered some tiny, round objects across the formation from a sack suspended from its waspish waist, then turned and flew slowly westward. The workers snatched up the objects, devouring them and sharing samples with any of their neighbors who hadn’t been quick enough to collect their own. They transformed their alignment into a column of fours and marched after the leader, a rhythmic drone swelling up from their ranks and across the prairie.
“What was that? What did the leader throw down to the workers?”
<The food of the gods. Let us follow.>
The story is a little unusual for me in that I don’t often include direct conversation about religious belief in my fiction–I think the proper role of fiction is to influence, not preach or proselytze. In this story, we have an exchange of information between two ambassadors, one human, one alien, and since the venue is a religious pilgrimage, one would expect them to talk a little bit about their respective faiths. Miranda happens to be a Christian, and this experience makes her think a little more deeply about the relationship between her theory and practice of Christianity.
It’s a good fit for Other Sheep, which seeks to actively engage these sorts of questions in the realm of speculative fiction. I’m excited to see new outlets in this growing segment of the spec-fic market. Christians, as well as folks from other faith traditions, like science fiction, fantasy, and horror as much as the general population, and they also enjoy stories that engage and challenge their faith without trampling all over it.
If you’d like to check out Other Sheep, or any of the other fine publications of Written World Communications, now’s a good time. They’re running a holiday sale with discounts on all their books and magazines.