|Becca Stareyes (beccastareyes) wrote,|
@ 2012-06-14 10:08:00
|Entry tags:||100 sff stories, hugos 2012|
100 SF/Fantasy Stories 011: The Ice Owl by Carolyn Ives Gilman
The Ice Owl by Carolyn Ives Gilman
This was enjoyable, but didn't leave as strong of an impact on me as the other novelas.
Thorn is fourteen in real time, but around 140-150 years by chronology. She lives in a society where interstellar travel exists, but is done by light-speed teleportation, but interstellar communication is instantaneous. So, a journey from Earth to Alpha Centauri involves spending an instant to you but four years to Earth and Alpha Centauri, in transit. (Which is measured by 'instantaneous communication'.)
Anyway, Thorn and her mother currently live in the ghetto of a city run by religious conservatives. Thorn herself has lived in nine different planets thanks to a mother on the run from a lawsuit and is almost completely removed from any friends she had in the previous places thanks to being ageless during her trips. She's going through that teenage stage where everyone is stupid and phony, and happens to meet an art trader who she talks into educating her. She's interested by the subjects, but also suspects the trader has something to do with a genocide on Gminta 141 years ago, a world Thorn lived on when she was a kid, and just barely escaped thanks to the wonders of a foreign passport.
I do like the way the travel method plays into Thorn's adolescent removal from her surroundings: Thorn is isolated by the fact she doesn't seem to know people her age, and she's constantly leaving behind friends because her mother's on the run. The ice owl in the title is a species that hibernates for centuries, and that the idle rich kept in freezers so they could awaken it when they found another collector; Thorn is given her tutor's, on the basis that she might meet another.
It also really messes (in the good 'let's poke it with sticks to gain insight!' way rather than in the 'writer can't write' way) with causality. Relativity makes simultaneity relative: if Thorn goes from one planet to another, it takes her a moment, but might take 32 years from the point of view of the observer, and both are correct. News of the Gminta Holocide (which I guess is a portmanteau of holocaust and genocide) traveled faster than any refugees or war criminals could. For that matter, any travelers from that world could arrive at their destinations and find out their entire culture on their home planet had been wiped out.
So, maybe there was more to this than meets the eye, since I had more to say about this than I thought I did.